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New York 


Authorized Translation from the German, containing the 
emendations and additions of the Author. The extra 
references of one of the Translators are indicated by 
square brackets. 



IN the preface to the German edition of this book, Pro- 
fessor Meyer tells us that it is an attempt to give a true 
and vivid account of the life of woman in ancient India, based 
upon the immense masses of material imbedded in the two 
great Epics, the Mahdbhdrata and the Rdmdyana. His method 
has been to make liberal use of the very words of the Epics. 

The Mahdbhdrata seems to occupy an unique place in the 
literature of the world. Parts of it, like the Bhagavad-gitd^ 
and the story of Nala and DamayantI, have become familiar to 
educated readers in almo^ every country of the we^, but these 
are only fragments of an enormous work, consi^ing of about a 
hundred thousand couplets, of which Professor Macdonell 
says ^ : — 

" Its epic kernel, amounting to about one-fifth of the whole work, 

became so much overgrown with didaftic matter that it could 

hardly be regarded as an epic at all, and has rather taken the place 

of a moral encyclopaedia in Indian literature." 
It provides us with moft valuable sources of information about 
the relations of the sexes, and the concepts underlying those 
relations, in India fifteen hundred and more years ago. 

Professor Meyer has used the Bombay edition of the Rdmd- 
yana^ and the second impression of the Bombay Mahdbhdrata. 
All his references which do not specify a particular title are to 
this version of the Mahdbhdrata. To some extent, he has 
consulted what he calls the Kumbakonam version " mainly 
based on the South Indian texts ". This he refers to as K. 

For the present translation. Professor Meyer has completely 
revised the German work, made various alterations in the text, 
and considerably enlarged the number of references. 


SBE. Sacred Books of the Eaft (edited by F. Max Muller). 

JAOS. Journal of the American Oriental Society. 

JRAS. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. 

ZDMG. Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenlandischen Gesellschaft. 

WZKM. Wiener Zeitschrift fiir die Kunde des Morgenlandes. 

1 InJia's Past (p. 88). Oxford, 1927. 



Editor's Introduction 





The daughter is unwelcome 

The daughter is beloved and happy 

The spoiled daughter 

The good daughter 

The fallen maiden and her sorrow 

Maidenhood reflored or unscathed in sexual intercourse 








High efleem set on maidenly purity . 

The fair one with determination in things of love 

33> 35» 41-43 

• 43 

• 45 

The father's {the kinsfolk's) right to marry away the daughter 54 
The father's duty to marry his daughter away . . . 54 

The different kinds of marriage . . . . -55 

To whom shall the daughter be given ? . . 56, 57, 60, 62 
fFhat makes the marriage and the promise of marriage 

valid in law ? ....... 5 8 

Age, character y and cafie of the maiden whom the man mu§l 

or may wed ...... 57,58,63,65 

Division of inheritance among the children of wives from 

different cables {as also the wife's share), and position 

of the wives from different cafles . . . .65 

Marriage by capture ....... 67 

The " self-choice " of the maiden {Svayamvara) . . 78 

The Gandharva marriage . . . . . .89 

Marriage by purchase . . . . . . . 1 00 

Marriages between Brahmans and nobles . . . . 1 04 

The marriage of younger brothers or sillers before the elder 

forbidden ........ 105 




0. Polyandry . . .108 

p. Hetierism . . . . . . . . .115 

f. Speculations on the true nature of marriage . . .130 


a. The feUival and usages . . . . , .139 

6. Wedding-gifts to the bridegroom ; dowry to the bride . . 141 


a. Wedlock a necessity for both sexes . . . . .146 

b. High dignity of the e^ate of father of the household . . 151 

c. Wedlock especially needful to woman . . . .155 

d. Overcoming unfruitfulness . . . . . .156 

e. Deputed fathership {especially through Brahmans") . .160 

f. The Levirate . . . . . . . .165 

g. The different kinds of sons . . . . . .174 

h. Family life and family happiness . . . . .183 

/. Love of parents for the children . . . . .184 

k. Sorrow of the kinsfolk for the dead child . . . .186 

/. The misfortune of having but one child . . . .191 

m. Love of children for the parents . . . . .194 


a. The high dignity and position of the mother . . . 199 

b. Behaviour when duty towards the mother confids with that 

towards the father . . . . . . .201 

c. Reverence of children towards the mother .... 208 

d. Tender love of the mother towards the children . . .210 


a. The moral earneUness of the Epic {love and wedlock in- 

separably bound together for the woman) . . .214 

b. The ritu {the time meet for fertilization) and its high 

importance. The right and duty of coition is founded 

on it . . . . . . . . .215 

c. The man then mufl . . . . . , .217 

d. The woman then will . . . . . . .220 




e. The man's seed sent off by bird-pofl to her that is ready for 

fertilization . . . . . . • .223 

/. Commerce zvith her that is Uill unclean strialy forbidden . 225 

a. The woman's joy and vigour in the pleasures of love . .229 
i. Punishment for diflurbing the sura t a {death during the 

sexual embrace) . . . . . . .233 

c. The joys of love as a healing herb . . . . .238 

d. Means for heightening the powers and heroes in flrength of love 239 

e. Uncleanness of the surata . . . . . .240 

f. Regulation of the pleasures of sex {not in public, not outside 

the vulva, not by day or at certain other times, not with 
another woman than the wife) . . . . .241 

g. Punishments awaiting the lewd man in this life and in the 

other ......... 246 

h. The dreadfulness of intercourse with the teacher s wife 

or with a woman of higher caSle . . . . . 251 

/. Other details : not to look on a naked Stranger woman, 

atonement for nightly pollution, a thoughtful hero of 

chaflity, etc. . . . . . . . .256 


a. Value of chasity in general . . . . . .258 

b. The ascetic s complete sexual denial, its dignity, and power, 

its difficulty, and the means of keeping it . . . 258 

c. The curber of his senses who was seduced by the woman . 260 

d. The ascetic who was set in an orgasm through the sight onh 

of a lovely woman . . . . . . .261 


a. Proflitution in full flower ...... 264 

b. The harlot a necessity of life ; an important part of social life ; 

she accompanies in war, the hunt, and other diversions 266 

c. The woman of pleasure as an ornament to thefeliival, escort of 

honour for and attendant on the important gueil . . 268 

d. Condemnation of the venal woman . . . . 273 





a. In the Epic, too, there are splendid poems on love. . . 277 
i>. Tales of the mans romantic love {Cantanu and Satyavatt, 

Samvarana and Tapati, Ruru and Pramadvara) . . 278 

c. The love romance of the giant maiden Hidimbd . . 291 

d. Ramans love lament and sorrow for the lofi Sit a . . .295 

e. Bhima's chivalry towards Draupadt {his search for the 

golden flower, his revenge on Kicaka, etc.) . 298 

/. The wild and heedless love life of the man {the woman only 
a booty, the holy man as hoU of love, wife robbery and 
the miniflering to pleasure among the gods, the enjoyment 
of many women the man's ideal, the rewarding of virtue 
with women in heaven . . . . . .315 

g. Places and opportunities for love {parks, woods, picnics) . 322 
h. J rousing love : — 

(i) Heady drink, and feftivals and sacrificial feafts 

enlivened by it, the unabashed participation of 

women in the joys of drinking, the amorous 

effeds of intoxication in women . . 324 

(ii) The things of nature {spring glories, beauties of 

nature, forefl, bird-song, wind, etc.) . . . 328 

(iii) Love-charms . . . . . . -33° 

;. Love is the higheii good . . . . . . -331 

k. Love is all-powerful and does away with responsibility . 332 
/. It robs of shame and virtue . . . . . -333 

m. It is the root of pain and death . . . . 333 

». It mu^ be enjoyed in moderation . . . . -333 

0. Macrobiotic rules for lovo and marriage . . -333 

p. Love muSl be on both sides and is given to the person present 334 

f . The woman in love goes to the tryfl in the mans house . . 335 
r. Explanation of concepts, phallolatry, and some erotic details . 338 



xl— woman js wife 




a. CharaSer and praise of the true wife . . . .340 

b. " The dignity of women " — the lofty and hard task of the 

woman ......... 344 

c. T he faithful wife Elands above the holy penitent . 

d. She can work miracles ...... 

e. She has her reward in the beyond .... 
/. The Hern demands on the wife {the husband the only law 

for the wife) . . . . . . -351 

g. Examples of exading husbands . . . . -352 

h. Examples of wives who find it too much . . . -355 

/. Three examples of wifely faithfulness . . . -356 


a. Physiological origin and discharge of the male seed . . 359 

b. Metaphysics of procreation and foetus formation : 

(i) The relation and adion of the reincarnated soul and 

the karman ...... 361, 366 

(ii) The adion of matter {prakriti) . . . .364 

c. Physiological origin and stages of growth of the womb's fruit 364 

d. Origin of the senses and their in^ruments . . . -363 

e. The continuous change in all elements of the human organism 364 
/. Woman the cause of procreation and of the Samsara . . 365 
g. Which parts of the body come from the father, which from 

the mother, and whom do the children take after ? . . ■}6<) 
h. Influence on the charader through unlawful begetting, and the 

fivefold zvay whereby gods can beget . . . -370 

;'. Pregnancy and cases of its extraordinarily longperiod . . 371 

k. Condemnation of pregnancy in too early years, and of fast us- 

slaying ......... 372 

/. Pregnancy of the man . . . . . . .372 

m. Generatio aequivoca . . . . . . .374 

n. Tales of changes in sex . . . . . . .376 


a. Her uncleanness, and the demons dangerous to her and the child 39 1 

b. Means for warding off harmful influences and powers . .396 



xiv.— woman in the house 


a. The spiteful holy man, and the equally so cooking-pot . . 400 

h. The canonization of the careful cooking-woman {the " super- 
natural flow of time " and " the feet in the fire " . .401 

c. The house-mother muH keep good order . . .402 

d. Is she mi fires s of the house ? . . . . . . 403 

e. The beautiful relation between daughter-in-law and mother- 

in-law ......... 404 


a. Her material position ....... 406 

b. A fresh marriage forbidden . . . . .407 

c. '''' Widowhood is the greatefl sorrow " . . . .410 

d. Widow-burning . . . . . . .412 

e. Dead husbands, brothers, etc. magically seen once more . 415 

f. Intercourse and children begotten with the dead husband . 416 


a. DraupadVs grief at Arjunas going away . . . .419 

b. KuntVs sorrow whe7i her sons go off into banishment . . 419 

c. The women's lament for those fallen in battle . . .419 

d. S'lta's sorrow when she believes Rama dead . . . 422 

e. Her wifely love and flout heart at Rama's banishment . .423 
/. Her sufferings and heroism in captivity . . . .424 


a. Sita, Savitri, etc. ....... 427 

b. Composite piSure of the charader of the pattern zooman . 427 

c. Beauty {catalogue of the woman's bodily attradions, their 

importance for the owner's happiness) . . . .430 


a. The woman in the Eafi and particularly in India is flronger- 

willed and more passionate than the man, above all in 

the business of love . . . . . .436 

b. The passionate and flrong-willed Draupadi . . . 440 

c. Kuntt fierily spurring on {the words of Vidula) . . .457 

d. The ambitious and revengeful goddess . . . .463 



xix.— position, rank, and importance of woman 


a. Her share in important things ...... 464 

h. Women s rule in the State . . . . . .465 

c. The wife goes, too, to the fight, the hunt, etc. . . . 466 

d. Woman and the fe^ival : amusements and diversions of the 

women ......... 467 

e. Women s journey ings ....... 470 

f. The harem or polygamy : — 

(i) Polygamy is right for the man, wrong for the woman 47 r 
(ii) Duties of the man with many wives {the partial 

moon) 471 

(iii) The passed-over wife of the polygamic. {Kaucalya, 

Devayan't and her son) . . . . .473 

(iv) Enmity between wives ..... 474 
(v) The sorrow of the wife when another is taken . \'j(i 

(vi) Harem life in town and camp . . . .478 

g. The watch over women, and how but one in the world has 

been kept from evil by another man . • . . .480 

h. The treatment of woman : — 

(i) She mufl be lovingly cherished and cared for by the 

man ........ 486 

(ii) The husband muH not let himself be kept by the wife 487 
(iii) The dreadfulness of woman-slaying . . .487 
(iv) The woman mu§l not be beaten, handled badly, nor 

forced ........ 489 

(v) On lying to women and deceiving them . . 4 90 

(vi) Various rules for behaviour towards women . .492 

(vii) The woman in sulks ..... 494 


a. " Honour women," who are the springs of happiness . -495 

b. Woman is the essence of all evil ..... 496 

c. Is insatiable in the joys of love, and always unchafle . . 497 

d. Is full of falsehood and trickery ..... 499 

e. Bad women are made that heaven shall not be ever-filled 499 
/. Woman is changeable, does not love at all, etc. . . .500 



g. Is evil and sorrow . 

h. Is ill-tempered and quarrelsome 

i. Is ruthlessly curious 

k. Is compassionate, at leall often 

I. Can be redeemed . 


a. Women {girls) as gifts and fees for sacrifice 

b. Woman {the daughter) given so as to save oneself 

c. The yielding up of the daughter or the wife to Brahmans 

as a highly meritorious deed ..... 

d. The satisfadion of the guefl's needs of sex {through slave- 

woman, daughter, wife) ; " the man that overcame 
death " 

e. The wife for one's friend ...... 

f The wife as property ....... 

g. The wife's adultery is an offence againfl property, is there- 
fore punished by the husband . . ' . 

h. Rama's treatment of the supposedly besmirched Sita 
i. Woman, the wife also, can easily be got, is an unimportant 
objed of the senses ....... 


a. Influence of the zoom an on war and peace .... 

b. Wherein lies woman's power? {Tears, smiles, attradive 

wiles, etc., qualities of charader) .... 

c. How does the woman ensure the love and devotion of her 

husband? {Magic, pious works, the right bearing 
towards her husband) ...... 

d. The might of woman's beauty ...... 

e. Woman overcomes even the savage giant {the inseparable 

demon-brothers Sunda and Upasunda) .... 

f. The woman and the innocent fore fi youth {Rishyacringa) 

Appendix : Additions and Corrections .... 

Index .......... 
















The Maid 

THE Mahabharata in its present form is a composition 
from widely separated periods in the hi^ory of Old 
Indian literature, and its elements are derived from various 
parts of the Old Indian land. It was not written by one man, 
but it is the work contributed by many hands. It is a growth : 
one piece from here, another from there ; one from this time, 
another from that. Like an Indian jungle it spreads out before 
us in an endless wilderness of trees entwined and tangled with 
rank creepers, coloured and scented with manifold flowers 
and blossoms, and the home of every kind of living creature. 
Bewitching bird-song, the terrifying cries of wild bea^s fall 
on our ears ; the poisonous snake winds its coils beside the 
mild dove ; the robber dwells therein, free, indeed, from the 
law, but often the slave of super^itions beyond belief ; and so 
the self-denying thinker with his eyes set above the earth, 
and his thoughts reaching into the depths of the world and of 
his soul. There lie the roots of a glowing, unbounded wealth 
of life, of a will ^rong beyond any other power ; and by their 
side are found the depths of dreaming, the heavy dead sleep 
of many thousand years, so that we should ourselves s'nk into 
it, too, were it not for the swarms of Ringing flies. And so we 
could long go on, setting wonder again^ wonder, but hardly 
ever reaching an end to it all ! It is a " great sea ", to sail over 
which " threefold bronze " is needed, not, indeed, about the 
breaft, but anyhow, about another, not so heroic part of 
the body. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

The Ramayana, on the other hand, has a closer unity, it 
being, indeed, very generally attributed by the critics to one 
poet. But in this case, too, whether or no we put our faith 
in tradition, it is clear that from the very beginning various 
parts were brought together and made use of, and that later all 
kinds of interpolations and changes were made. 

Thus in very many points we can look for no inner con- 
si^ency in either of the two great national Epics of India. 
In every human being, indeed, we can find a ho^ of contra- 
dictions side by side ; how much the more will they be found 
where so many minds have helped in the building up of one 
work. Both Epics bear the cleared Indian ^amp ; through 
both, too, runs one view only of the world : the Quieti^ view. 
But while this seems fairly natural to the Ramayana, to the real 
^em of the Mahabharata it is utterly Grange, and has been 
only gradually grafted on to the mighty growth of the wild 
plant. The Ramayana, indeed, is seen from the very beginning 
to be essentially soft, dreamy, fantastic, and deeply religious — 
to be a work of the Brahmans. On the other hand, the poetry 
of the Mahabharata is often quickened in its older parts by a 
mighty flame of fire, a manly, undaunted, passionate soul : 
it was a warrior that sung this heroic song, whoever it may be 
to whom the " original Mahabharata " may be referred. 
Later hands then fixed all kinds of labels on the pieces that had 
been preserved in greater perfeftion, utterly re-modelled much, 
inserted long pieces, and sought, well or ill, to give the whole 
the tendentious coating of Brahmanism. Out of a rugged 
epic, in which the proud warrior, boasting his ^rength and power, 
was the main, perhaps the only concern, it became the aim to 
glorify the prie^ as never before or since in the world's literature, 
and at an early ^age the paragon Arjuna and the wretched 
canting Yudhishthira were set in the place of Karna, the 
sun's son, and of the mighty Duryodhana, without the result, 
however, of robbing the old and true heroes of all their splendour, 
not to speak of raising the utterly worthless favourites of the 
prie^s to the same heights.^ Everywhere the ^rudlure of 

^ The fad of this utter reversal of the earlier ftate of things is beyond 
any doubt. The explanation of this extraordinary phenomenon will 
perhaps always be a matter for conjefture. Despite a huge difference. 

The Maid 

the Epic itself shows gaping joins and fissures. To this is 
added the heavy additional weight of the mo^ diverse episodes 
and interpolations. In the details, too, of the observations and 
wearisome details as to God and the World, as to Man and his 
nature and aftions, we very often find utter contradiftions ; 
and this is so whether the ruthless warrior or the softer thinker, 
the ardent ascetic or the sly prie^ is speaking, whether individual 
peculiarities, or the shades derived from time and place, or 
some other influence are to be seen. 

When, therefore, there are already so many contradictions 
found side by side, it is seen at once that, on the subjedl of 
that great bundle of contradidlions. Woman and all belonging 
to her, or to speak more exaftly, on the subjedl of the refledlion 
of this object in the brain and heart of Man, the two 
great Epics, especially the Mahabharata, contain very contra- 
dictory utterances, and that often one saying will flatly contradict 
another. This lies firft of all in the nature of the Indian. In 
other lands, too, the attitude of the feelings and thoughts of 
man towards woman very often undergoes changes according 
to the ^ate of mind and experience of life, and above all 
according to personal experience of the fairer half of mankind, 
not to speak of the more or less dominating deeper charafter 
of the individual, or other influences. And thus even in the 
cooler We^ the proverbs, the songs, the tales, and so forth 
about women make up the mo^ twined bundle in the world. 
In the soul of the Indian there dwells that twin pair, burning 
sensuality and ftark renunciation of the world and the flesh. 
What a delight and torment then muft woman be to him I And 

Duryodhana reminds me ftrongly of Saul in the Old Teftament, 
Yudhishthira of David. The Pandava are favourites of the prie^ly 
party, and doubtless did not win this place for nothing. These evidently 
non-Aryan intruders may have hidden the multitude of their sins, after 
the way only too well-known, with the cloak of prieftly fawning, 
as crafty " converts " to Brahmanism. The Kaurava, on the contrary, 
as the doughty champions of the warrior nobility, probably aroused 
the undying hatred of the Brahmans. Since writing this I have 
come upon the excellent remarks of W. Crooke, The North-WeUern 
Provinces of India (1897), p. 65, where he describes the spirit of the 
two Epics as I have done. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

since he is wont to express his impressions and views with great 
violence, has no fear of any dedudlion and drives everything 
to its utmo^ end, we might put together a more than gigantic 
folio volume on woman from Indian literature, whose various 
parts would only have this in common : their contradidlion 
of one another. 

But I think that there is one thing that can be picked out, 
from the nature of the Indian we have ju^ been describing, 
as a specific attribute : among other peoples, or among the 
Wesl:ern civilized nations, we find a more delicate colouring, 
more individuality, a greater variety and richness in the 
variations on the mexhau^tible theme of woman. In India, 
on the other hand, two personalities, above all, though by no 
means exclusively, are heard : the voluptuary and the 
renouncer. This, of course, does not at all necessarily mean 
that the former will only praise woman and the latter only 
condemn her, for we know that it is very often those who run 
after women who despise them mo^ heartily, and any true 
regard for them mu^ be quite lacking in such men ; and 
whether we are friendly inclined or otherwise towards the 
sex, it offers the keen observer so rich and varied a material 
that in this case a wholly one-sided view or even a feeling of 
boredom is only possible to a narrow head and heart. The 
Hindu shows, indeed, a keen observation at all times when he 
has to do with the way of the world ; that is why hardly 
any other people has so great a proverbial wisdom ; and 
there has been no want in India of moderate men, landing 
rather between the extremes. 

Thus it is that the Indian in particular, in his views on woman 
and love, has from very early times shown that capacity for 
living in earned, for ethics, for healthy feeling, which with 
him ever and again in other fields, too, makes itself felt through 
every kind of dissoluteness : on filth and corruption it will 
not seldom bring forth to the light of day even sweet flowers 
of lovely colours. So it is that woman, above all as a 
loving wife and tender mother — woman, that is, in her moft 
natural and fairesT: calling — has nowhere else found greater 
and more heartfelt appreciation ; in mo^ literatures, indeed, 
there is far less. Let anyone, for iiiblance, set what has been 

The Maid 

written in Old India beside what was written in the Middle 
Ages, or beside Romance, in particular old and even modern 
French literature ; in spite of so many, not always edifying, 
though nearly always intere^ing refinements, there is wafted 
to us from the world of the Old Indian books a deeply ethical 
spirit, one might even say a wholesomeness, which has a very 
pleasing effed: in contra^ with the so often empty frivolity — 
the nauseating filthiness and vulgarity — that meets us out of 
those other literatures. To put it otherwise and not to wander 
abroad : the Old Indian loose tales, indeed, in spite of the 
cautionary thread running all through them, have not been 
trimmed and put together by literary tailors working for 
girls' schools ; and yet they are like real moral ^rait- 
wai^coats, when compared with a great many of the more or 
less highly praised produftions of the later and late^ German 

It is now well known, and it has been Pressed by many with 
a special knowledge of India, that these two great Epics 
^ill exert an influence to-day on the mind and the life of the 
Hindu people like no other literary work.^ There is the further 
fad that the literature of the " posl-Epic " times is often very 
greatly dependent on the Epic, or influenced in many places by it. 
Owing to these inner relations between the Epic and the Classical 
literature, there thus arises, furthermore, a far-reaching indireft 
influence. What Indian woman (to speak only of the obvious) 
did not know and honour Sita and Savitrl and other heroines 
of the Epic poems ! 

The Epic, however, in many respefts only gives us very 
fragmentary information about woman and her life and the 
value set on her among the Old Indians. But in general it is 
only a seftion of Old Indian life that is opened before us in the 
Epic poems. How much, indeed, do we learn as to the great 
mass of the people ! The warrior and the Brahman take all 

^ So J. C. Oman, T^he Great Indian Epic, London, 1906, p. i ff. ; 
Nisikantha Chattopadhyaya in his Indian Essays ; Sifter Nivedita, 
The Web of Indian Life, London, 1906, pp. 95-115 ; Ramakrishna, 
Life in an Indian Village, London, 1891, p. 142 ff. ; Basanta Koomar 
Roy, Rabindra Natk Tagore (New York, 191 5), p- 28 ; W. Crooke, 
The North-WeUern Provinces of India (London, 1897), p. 256. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

our attention for themselves. I sing arms and the prie^ ! 
But happily there' is incidentally a lot more besides in those 
huge works, and on our theme, too. Poetry can do without 
the husbandman and the burgher, but take away woman and 
you cut its very life away. 

But however important woman is, her entry into the city of 
life is seldom hailed on this earth with hosannas and palm- 
ilrewn roads ; nor is she met with the blare of trumpets that 
joyfully greets the warrior-hero, ^ She is neither a world- 

^ How unwelcome girls are among the various peoples and tribes has 
been, of course, often described. It will be enough to refer to Ploss- 
Bartels, Das Weib in der Natur- tind Volkerkunde^, i, 247 ff., ii, 473 ; 
and We^ermarck, The Hilary of Human Marriage"^, London, 1901, 
p. 311 ff. ; Elsie Clews Parsons, The Old-Faskioned Woman, 201 ff. 
On India see, for in^ance, Ramabai Sarasvati, The High Cafle Hindu 
Woman, and Billington, Woman in India, p. i ff. ; James Tod, 
Rajafihan (that is, Annals and Antiquities of RajaHhan, popular ed., 
Calcutta), i, 670 ff. ; S. C. Bose, The Hindoos as They Are (1881), 
pp. 24, 28, 216 ff. ; Bulloram MuUick, Home Life in Bengal, p. 68, 
103. The Arabs before Mohammed seem to be the moft brutal among 
the barbarians, for they simply buried girl-children alive. Hauri, 
Der Islam, p. 8 ; Finck, Primitive Love and Love Stories, p. 32 ; 
Schweiger-Lerchenfeld, Die Frauen des Orients, 63 f. ; Hartmann, 
Zeitsch. d. Vereins f. Volkskunde, Bd. ii, p. 240 ; Welhausen, 
Gdttinger Nachrichten, 1893, p. 458; and, above all, Anthropos, 
Bd. iii, p. 62 ff. A sentence in this la^ may be given here, which could 
have been written of far too many other places on the earth : II 
eft d'usage parmi les Bedouins que quand un gar^on vient au monde, 
il eft annonce a la famille et a tous les voisins par des cris de joie qui 
se repetent d'une tente k I'autre, mais quand c'eft une fille qui vient 
augmenter le nombre des membres de la famille on garde le silence 
le plus absolu, accompagne de toutes les marques de la triftesse, 
qu'on laisse voir a tout le monde (p. 65). When we find here too the 
ftatement that many beat the poor wife that has brought a girl 
into the world, we may also refer perhaps to Fr. S. Krauss, Sitte 
und Brauch der SUdslaven (1885), p. 540 f, and also to p. 592 ff. 

According to McLennan's theory {^Primitive Marriage, especially 
p. 7 5 ff.) that once all the peoples of the world were exogamous owing 
to girl-kilhng, all tribes and hordes muft then have done away 
with their daughters — an unexampled piece of nonsense. As an 
opposite example, the Abipones of Paraguay may be named, who 


The Maid 

redeemer nor a world-shaker, but Sarnsarahetu, the " source 
of the world ", the cause of the Sansara, in which, as the 
Indian says, pleasure, and above all the pleasure of love, is 
but pain. The birth of a daughter is in general not an objeft 
of his wishes. Thus xii, 243.20, says : " The elde^ brother is 
the same as the father, wife and son are a man's own body, 
his servants are the man's shadow, the daughter is the bittere^ 
woe." And i, 159. 11 : "The son is his very self, the wife 
a friend, but the daughter is known for a misfortune." ^ We 
can thus well underhand that among the dreadful omens boding 
the many deaths in the fight between the Kauravas and the 
Pandavas, this one, too, appears : " Many women will bear 
four and five girls " — and probably at one birth (vi, 3.7). 
Not to mention anything else, it is only the son who can bring 
his forbears that offering so absolutely needed for happiness 
in the other world. With a daughter this can only be done 
indiredlly — through her sons. And that is always an unsure 
thing. For again^ wedding with such a maiden advice is given 
by the Epic (xiii, 44.15), as also by the Smriti or law literature.^ 
But whatever the event, the important thing is to marry the 
girl off fittingly. And here there lies a source of sorrow for 
the parents. Thus in v, 97.15, 16, we hear the wretched father 
of the marriageable daughter call out " Shame on the coming 
of a daughter into the house of men of ^rong charadler, who 
are di^inguished, praiseworthy, and of kind disposition. The 
mother's kindred, the father's, and they to whom she is given — 
three families — are brought to danger by the daughter of 

mainly killed the boys, as a wife had to be bought for them, while 
the girls could be profitably disposed of. Finck, Primitive Love, 
p. 587. Marriage by purchase, not very honourable in itself, has yet 
been of much effeft in enhancing the value of daughters and wife. 

1 Cf. Weber's Indische Studien, v, p. 260, 265 ; Windisch, 
Buddhas Geburt, etc., p. 60 ; Winternitz, Gesch. d. ind. Liter., i, 1 84 ; 
^ukraniti (ed. Oppert), iii, 520-3 ; Otto Stein, MegaHhenes u. 
Kautilya (Vienna, 192 1), 68, note 3 ; J. J. Meyer, Kautilya, 
480.3-4; addit. 480.37 ; ?iSs>o '&c\\xdid.&i. Die Indogermanen, loi f. ; 
Fei^, Kultur, Ausbreitung u. Herkunft d. Indogermanen (1913), 
p. 108 ; 299 f 

2 Manu, iii, li ; Gautama, xxviii, 20 ; Yajnavalkya, i, 53. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

good men." For no one knows how things will go, whether 
the bride will lead a good life, or bring happiness.^ What, 
indeed, shows itself moft is the anxiety whether a bridegroom 
will be found who will do honour through his blood, charadler, 
and so forth. This is what we often find in the Mahabharata, 
and so, for inftance. Ram., vii, 9.10-11 : "To be the father 
of a daughter is an afflidlion for him that seeks after honour, 
and no one knows who will (or shall) take a maiden to his house ; 
thus it is, O daughter. The mother's kindred, the father's, and 
they to whom she goes in marriage — three families are brought 
ever into danger by a daughter." Essentially the same thought 
is uttered by a harassed father who goes about trying to find a 
husband for his daughter, in the 12th sarga, 9I. 11-12. It is 
well known that in India often the whole family will ruin 
itself in the endeavour to find a thoroughly good match for the 
daughter, and give her a wedding befitting its ftanding.^ 
Having regard to all the evils brought down by a daughter, 
we very easily underhand why the Hindu often hails her 
without much joy. But the love for children, which is so 
^rong in the Indian, is also felt towards her, and so Bana 
very finely declares that the parents are saddened at the birth 
of a girl, as they think of the day when a bridegroom will rob 
them of the loved one.^ And little light as the Epic throws on 

^ Cp. Jat.,Nos. 102, 217 (it is not known how the daughter bids to 
fare in the husband's house). An eloquent description of the sorrows 
and woes a daughter gives her parents from birth, on account of her 
marriage, is to be found in Bose, The Hindoos as They Are (1881), 
p. 219 fF. ; Bulloram MuUick, Home Life in Bengal, p. 108 ff. 

2 This cofts at leaft 200 dollars in the upper classes (Ramabai 
SarasvatI, p. 12), and even the peasant weddings are dear (cp. Sir B. 
Fuller, Studies of Indian Thought and Sentiment, London, 19 10, 
p. 1 5 5 f.). On the Rajput see especially Tod, RajaUhan, i, p. 672 ff. 

^ Harshacarita, translated by Cowell and Thomas, p. 122. A 
beautiful picture is given in MBh., iii, 32.60-63 : King Drupada 
has his sons taught the prudent way of life by a wise Brahman who 
lives as a gueft in his house. The father sits there, and when his little 
daughter comes with any message or errand he lifts her up onto his 
lap, and she likens eagerly to the teacher's words. He then speaks 
coaxing words to her, and the little girl, to supplement these crumbs 
she has caught up, gets from her brothers a repetition of the maker's 


The Maid 

the life of the unwedded girl, yet we may take to be true for 
the Epic world what is told us of the happy time spent by the 
Indian girl before she goes to her husband's house in, for 
in^ance, Ramabai Sarasvati, The High Caste Hindu Woman 
(London, 1890), p. 23, and the far too romantic Si^er Nivedita, 
The Web of Indian Life (London, i9o6),p. 35. Thus we 
read of the merry game which the girls enjoyed in the evening 
in the pleasure groves (Ram., ii, 67.17 ; cf. 71.22). The 
ball-game of the grown-up girls, often referred to in the 
Classical literature, and described at such length in the 
Da^akumaracaritam (p. 290 ff. of my translation), is also found 
in the Epic, ^anta plays ball in iii, 111.16. The small girls, 
too, amuse themselves in this way (v, 90.63). The balls used 
would seem to have been very finely coloured, at any rate those 
of the upper classes (iii, 112.10).^ Bhishma declares: 
" The son is as one's very self ; the daughter is like the 
son. How could it be, so long as she is alive, that any other 
should have the property ? " (xiii, 45.11). Then he sets forth 

wisdom, doubtless told very solemnly. How greatly the daughter is 
loved is described, too, e.g. in Leumann, Die Nonne, ein Roman aus 
d. alten Indien, strophe 107 fF., 125 ff., 423 ff. ; Kupabai 
Satthianadhu, Kama/a (Leipzig, i8g8), p. 120. Of the Rajput 
we are told by James Tod, RajaHhan {^Annals and Antiquities of 
Rajafikan, first popular ed., Calcutta), that there are few among even 
the loweft of the chiefs whose daughters are not taught to read and 
write (i, p. 676). So, too, Shib Chunder Bose, The Hindoos as They 
Are, p. 226. But see, for inftance, Ramabai Sarasvati, p. 57. 

^ How the ball-game befitted the fascination of a young girl, and 
how she ftrengthened her conque^ by it is to be gathered, too, from 
Bhagavata-Purana, viii, 12.15 ff. : Rudra or (^iva comes on a visit 
to Vishnu. The latter by his Maya (magic) calls up a bewitchingly 
fair maiden, who plays at ball, and whose garments are carried off 
by the wind. Although (^iva's wife is beside him he rushes up to the 
charmer and then goes after her as she wre^s herself from his grip ; 
in the pursuit semen ejus ejicitur. It goes, of course, without saying 
that in the Epic the girl plays with dolls. But when Hopkins, because 
Uttara ^ill took pleasure in this at the time of her marriage, concludes 
she was ftill in her childhood, he makes a miftake. Cf Billington, 
Woman in India, p. 215; ^rivara's Kathakautukam, Sanskrit and 
German by R. Schmidt, vi, 15, 48, 69. 

B* Q 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

that the mother's own portion falls to the lot of the girl ; the 
property shall be inherif^d by the daughter's son from the 
father that has no sons. For he be^ows the ance^ral food-cakes 
for his own father and for his mother's father. In law there is 
no difference between one's own son and the daughter's son. 
The daughter, too, takes precedence of the son that is born 
elsewhere, that is, who is not the son of the body ; according to 
the commentary, she takes three-fifths of the e^ate. So we 
find in xiii, 47.25 f : " That which was given by her father 
to the wife from the Brahman cafle, O Yudhishthira, shall 
be taken by the daughter. For she is equal to the son." ^ 

^ There is no diilinftion between son's son and daughter's son 
(Manu, ix, 130 ; Vishnu, xv, 47). If there are no sons, and also the 
mother is dead, then the daughter inherits the father's property, and 
no one else ; for she is sprung from his body juft like the son 
(Narada, xiii, 50; Brihaspati, xxv, 55 ff.; Yajfiavalkya, ii, 135 f ; 
Vishnu, xvii, 4 fF.). But cp. Apa^amba, ii, 6, 14, 2-6 ; Gautama, 
xxviii, 21 ff. ; Vasishtha, xvii, 81 fF. ; Manu, ix, 185 fF. (and Buhler's 
notes on it, SBE, xxv, p. 365). So the Mahanirvanatantra, xii, 36, 
ftates that the daughter of the man without wife or son gets the 
father's inheritance, even if there is a brother of the father's ; and 
according to 55 the daughter-in-law or the granddaughter inherits 
before the dead man's own father. According to Vishnu, xviii, 34 f., 
the mother and the unmarried daughter get a share of the man's 
eftate according to the son's share (putrabhaganusarena), that is 
to say, exaftly so much as the sons who are equal to them in the cafte 
have the right to inherit, an arrangement, therefore, which provides 
for a teftator with wives of differing ca^es, and probably only for one 
without a son. If the father share out his e^ate himself, then according 
to Narada, xiii, 1 3, the unwedded daughter receives as much as the sons 
between the elde^ and younge^. But cp. Brihaspati, xxv, 64 ; Manu, 
ix, 118 ; YSjfiav., ii, 1 24 (the brothers must give the unwedded sixers 
a fourth part of their own share). According to Yaska's Nirukta, iii, 4, 
the children inherit equally, regardless of sex (see Buhler's Manu, 
p. Ixi). The woman's eftate or mother's own property (^ridhana, 
yautuka) falls to her daughter. Vishnu, xvii, 18 ff. ; Gautama, xxviii, 
24 ; Baudhayana, ii, 2, 3, 43 ; Yajfiavalkya, ii, 143-5 5 Agnipurana, 
transl. by Manmatha Nath Dutt, p. 925, etc. Cp., too, especially 
Manu, ix, 130—9; J. J. Meyer, IJber das Wesen d. altind. Rechts- 
schriften u. ihr Verhdltnis zu einander u. %u Kautilya (Leipzig> 
1927), P- 73 ff- 


The Maid 

The sight of pretty and well-dressed girls and being greeted 
by them with fe^al honour brings good luck if one is minded 
to take an important ^ep (vii, 82.22 ; cp. 7.9 ; 1 12.62 ff. ; 
xiii, 1 1. 14). Eight girls are named as important objeds of 
good luck on the occasion of the preparations for consecrating 
Rama as crown-prince (Ram., ii, 14.36) ; and when at la^ 
he comes back from exile and marches to his solemn consecration 
as king, there go before him, as bringing weal : unhusked 
corn, gold, cows, young girls, and Brahmans, as also men with 
sugar-cakes in their hands ; and in his sprinkling or initiation 
into the rank of prince, maidens also take a part, sixteen in 
number, as the commentator points out (Ram., vi, 128, 
9I. 38, 62 ; cp. MBh., V, 140, 14 f.).^ And like other Indian 
literature the Mahabharata shows how a man can get a daughter. 
According to xiii, 87.10, this is brought about through the 
ancestral offering on the second day of the dark half of the 
month. There is other information in xiii, 104. 151 ; iii, 
83.190. See also xiii, 83.51 ; i, 1 16. 12 (a daughter is longed 
for). This we shall speak of later. 

We find even quite spoiled daughters. Thus i, 76 ff., tells 
us : " The gods and the Danavas fight with one another for 
leadership. (,^ukra, the sacrificial pric^ of the Danavas, knows 
the charm for bringing back life, and keeps on calling back 
to life the Danavas who fall in the fight. The sacrificial prie^ 
of the gods, Brihaspati, cannot do this. So the heaven-dwellers 
are at a great drawback. They induce Kaca, Brihaspati's young 
son, to go and be a disciple of ^ukra, by telling him ' Thou 
and no other, can^ win favour with DevayanI, the beloved 
daughter of this high-minded one. When once thou haft 
gladdened DevayanI through a virtuous character, skill, 
friendliness, right living, and self-control, then thou wilt of 
a surety win this charm for awakening the dead.' " (Jukra takes 
him. " So as to win the favour of both, the youth would ever 

^ In the body of the wedded and the unwedded woman alike there 
dwells, too, <Jri, the goddess of happiness and beauty (Vishnu, xcix, 
14), and girls and women also turn aside the " evil eye " (drishti- 
parihara). Cf. Edgar ThursT:on, Omens and Superfiilions of Southern 
India (1912), pp. I 5-17, 23, 118. To see women is lucky according 
to MBh., ix, 56, 24 f. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

gladden DevayanI with singing, dancing, and music. He 
waited on the maiden, who was in her youth, and rejoiced her 
with flowers, fruits, and services. DevayanI, too, secretly gave 
careful heed to this Brahman youth who zealously carried out 
vows and holy works, as she sang and trifled before him," 
The Danavas, however, saw him in the fore^ as he was herding 
his teacher's cows, que^ioned him, and killed and cut him up, 
and gave him to the wolves to eat, all out of enmity towards 
Brihaspati, and in order that the magic for bringing back to 
life, so useful to them, should not become known to the gods. 
The cows came back in the evening without their herd. 
DevayanI saw this, and said to her father : " Evidently Kaca 
has been killed or has died. Without him I do not want to 
live ; I swear it thee." ^ukra made use of his spell for bringing 
back to life : Kaca broke out of the wolves' bellies, and showed 
himself hale and whole before the teacher and his daughter. 
On another day DevayanI sent him into the foreft to bring 
flowers. The Danavas crushed him, and. mixed him up with the 
sea's waters. And again the teacher called him back to life. 
But the third time the foes ground him to powder, put it in 
brandy-wine, and gave the mixture to (^ukra to drink. DevayanI 
spoke and said : " Kaca went forth on my service to bring 
flowers, and he is no longer to be seen. Clearly he has been 
slain or is dead. Without Kaca I will not live ; that I swear 
unto thee." The father put it to her that she need not take 
so much thought of Kaca, since she had the choice of Brahmans, 
gods, and demons. The luckless fellow, he said, is indeed 
always being killed. But she exclaimed : " He is cha^e, and 
greatly ascetic, always ready and skilled in all contrivances. 
I shall follow Kaca, and hunger myself to death. I love the 
handsome Kaca." So it came to yielding, and her father began, 
his spell. But now came the quandary : the disciple had to 
obey, and yet could not ; for he could not come out of the 
teacher's belly without, at the same time, bringing death on 
him. This the anguished one brought to the teacher's know- 
ledge in moving words, speaking from the wizard's body, and 
telling him how he had been drunk down together with the 
brandy-wine. DevayanI knew no consolation : " Two sorrows 
burn me like fire : Kaca's death, and the annihilation 


The Maid 

threatening thee. If Kaca dies then there is no salvation for 
me ; and if thou art destroyed, then I cannot Hve." But 
(fulcra found a way out : he initiated the disciple into the 
magic spell, who broke out of the teacher's belly, and brought 
back the dead man to life again with all speed, (^ukra was 
now filled with anger againsT: the evil brandy-wine, that had 
brought about the whole misfortune, and forbade it to the 
Brahman for all time with great solemnity and under dreadful 
threats of punishment. Kaca now wished to go back to the gods, 
and took leave of the teacher. DevayanI went to meet him and 
besought him carnc^ly to wed her. But he had no wish" to, and 
came out of it by urging that she as his teacher's daughter, was 
honourable in his sight, and, moreover, was now his sifter, 
since both of them had now abode in (^ukra's body. The loving 
girl, however, made answer : " If thou do^ scorn me for love 
for virtue, although I have asked thee with tears, then this 
magic knowledge will be nought in thine hands." He told her 
that he was unwilling only because he would not offend againft 
the old holy laws, and since she had cursed him so unju^ly 
and unfoundedly, her wish would not be fulfilled : no son of a 
Rishi would take her with him as wife.^ So he went back to 
the gods, taught them the magic, and they were now made 
happy. They then exhorted Indra to show his valour. He set 
forth, but saw maidens bathing in the fore^ and playing in the 
water. Then he changed himself into a wind, and tossed their 
clothes about. When they came out of the water, they took 
the wrong clothes. The bathing girls were DevayanI and 
^armishtha, the daughter of the Daitya prince Vrishaparvan, 
together with the princess's followers. Qarmishtha happened 
to lay hold of the clothes of her friend, DevayanI ; the latter 
rebuked Carmishtha : "Why art thou, my disciple, taking 
my clothes ? Wicked girl, it will not go well with thee." 
Carmishtha answered : " Whether my father is sitting or 
lying down, thy father as a court singer ever praises him, and stands 
humbly far below. For thou art the daughter of him that 
begs, that praises, that takes ; I am the daughter of him that is 
praised, that grants, that never takes." Burn away, hurt 

^ That is, no man of the Brahman ca^e. 

^ Cp. Baudhayana's law book, ii, 2, 4.26 (= ii, 2.79-80). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

thyself, be abusive, be angered, thou beggar ! Thou hast 
nought, thou art weaponless, and art upset over her that is 
armed, thou eater of alms. Thou shalt find someone v^^ho is a 
match for thee ; thou art nothing to me." ^ (Jarmishtha, 
bent on evil, threw DevayanI, who was in a rage of pride,^ 
and kept hold of the clothes, into a well, and went back to her 
town, believing within herself : " She is no more." Without 
taking any more thought about her, she went into her house 
filled with mad anger. 

Then came thither Yayati, Nahusha's son, with a wearied 
team, and wearied horses, hunting after game, and athir^. 
Nahusha's son saw the waterless well and saw this maiden in 
it, like a flame of fire. And when he had seen her he asked the 
maiden, who was like a goddess, he the beft among princes 
asked her, as he reassured her with mo^ sweet and soft words : 
" Who art thou, fair maid, with the red nails and shining 
jewels and ear-rings ? ^ Long and over-much haft thou been 
given up to gloomy thoughts. And wherefore do^ thou torture 

1 In the MBh. the man of the warrior nobility is always declaring 
that his kind does not ask and takes nothing ; " grant me," he utters 
of only one thing : of fighting. Only the Brahmans beg ; begging is, 
indeed, their faithful mate ; but the Kshattriya owns and enjoys 
that only which he has won with his own might. See, for instance, i, 
92.135".; iii, 154.10 ; V, 75.23 ; 120.19 ; xii, 199.42, 74, 82, 1 12. 
As here, so the warrior, times beyond telling, shows us in the MBh., 
how removed from the prieftly class he feels himself, and how deeply 
his lordly pride scorns it. For this cp., too, the excellent account of 
Hopkins, JAOS, xiii, 151-62; Fick, Die soziale Gliederung, etc., 
51 fF., 64. But the nobility is left far and away behind by the mad 
pretensions of the prickly ca^e, which has given the poem its present 
form, and fully indemnifies itself through its one and only weapon — 
the word, as the MBh. repeatedly points out. Indeed, it has, as is 
well known, preached the taking of gifts as aftually one of its good 
works, and in xiii, 121. 14, we read the pronouncement : " The taker 
wins the same merit as the giver ; for nothing rolls on one wheel, as 
the holy seers know." It is only the beftowcr then, that owes thankful- 
ness ; he is given the chance to win high religious blessing by deeds. 

2 Samucchraya. Cp. vi, 44.6, where, however, " high-billowing 
fight " would also fit in, and vi, 99.29, where the word = yuddha. 

3 Or, car-rings of precious ftones. 


The Maid 

thyself with care ? And how haft thou fallen into this plant- 
and grass-covered well ? And whose daughter art thou ? 
Speak the truth, maiden with the lovely wai^ ! " DevayanI 
spoke : " I am that Cukra's daughter, he who brings back to life 
again the Daityas slain by the gods. He knows of a surety 
nothing about me. Here is my right hand with its red-nailed 
fingers. Take me, and draw me out. For I know thou art of 
noble birth. I can see in thee a man of calm soul, of bravery, 
and of renown. Therefore maye^ thou draw me, who have 
fallen in here, out of this well." When the king, Nahusha's 
son, had learned she was a Brahman's daughter, he took her by 
the right hand and pulled her out of that pit. And when the 
prince Yayati had pulled her quickly out of this well, he took 
his leave of the fair-hipped one, and went off to his town. 
When Nahusha's son had gone, DevayanI, the spotless one, 
spoke, torn with grief, to her handmaid, Ghurnika, who had 
come from the town : " Ghurnika, go quickly and tell my 
father : ' I shall not set foot now any more in the town of 
Vrishaparvan.' " Ghurnika went quickly into the Asura's ca^le, 
and when she saw Cukra she spoke to him with a soul filled 
with emotion, told the very wise one that DevayanI had been 
slain in the fore^ by Carmishtha, the daughter of Vrishaparvan. 
When ^ukra heard that his daughter had been slain there in 
the fore^ by ^armishtha, he hastened out filled with woe, 
looking for his child. Then when (^ukra had seen his daughter 
in the foreft, he clasped her in his arms and spoke the words : 
" Through their own misdeeds (in an earlier being) all men do 
compel happiness and unhappiness to themselves.^ I think 
thou haft done some evil, and the punishment for it has been 
thus inflidted." DevayanI spoke : " Never mind about punish- 
ment ! Liflen carefully to me : Is it true what (^armishtha, 
daughter of Vrishaparvan, said unto me ? She said thou wert 
the singer of the Daityas. That is what I was told by 
^armishtha, Vrishaparvan's daughter, in sharp, bitter words, 
with her eyes deep-reddened by anger : ' Thou art but the 

^ Or simply : bring on themselves. Niyacchati = get for oneself, 
obtain, is often found in the MBh. (for inftance, iii, 207.66 ; v, 
64.19; 72.62; 163.41; vii, 199.33; xii, 290.24; 307.40; xiii, 
48.42 f; xiii, 57.21 ; 59.21; I43-5I5 xv, 34.8). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

daughter of him that praises ; that ever asks and accepts ; 
but I am the daughter of him that is praised, that bestows 
and never accepts.' That is what (Jarmishtha, Vrishaparvan's 
daughter, said to me over and over again with anger-reddened 
eyes and filled with pride. Father, if I am the daughter of 
him that praises and accepts, then will I beg forgiveness of 
(^armishtha. That I have said to my friend." (^ukra spoke : 
" Thou art not the daughter of one that praises, that asks, 
that accepts ; the daughter thou art of one that praises not, of 
one that is praised, Devayiinl. Vrishaparvan knows that, and 
Indra and King Yayati. For the Brahman that is beyond all 
thinking and has nothing twofold is my kin2:ly power.^ And 
whatever there be anywhere in heaven and earth,^ I am ever 
proclaimed as its lord by the rejoicing, self-sprung being 
(Brahma). I make the water to flow for the weal of creatures, 
I make all plants to grow. This truth I sv/ear unto thee." 
Thus in friendly wise did the father speak in sweet, gentle 
words to this girl that had fallen into doubt, that was tortured 
with indignation : " Let that human being, that bears ever 
with patience the taunting speech of others, know, O DevayanI, 
that he has won this All. He that bridles his rising anger, like 
a ^eed, that one is called a leader by the good, not he who pulls 
at the horse's reins. He that drives forth his rising anger by 
his freedom from anger, know, O DevayanI, that such a one 
has overcome this All. He that throws off his rising anger by 
a mild patience, as the snake does its old skin, such a one is 
indeed called a man. He that holds his ill-humour in check, 
he that calmly bears evil report, and he that, when he is 
tormented, does not torment, such a one is indeed a vessel of 
profit. If one man, month by month through a hundred years, 
without wearying, makes sacrifice, and another is not angered 
by anything (or : again^ anyone), then of the two he that is 
not angered is the greater. If boys and girls heedlessly weave 
enmitj', the wise man shall not imitate them ; for they do not 
know what ^rength and weakness is." DevayanI spoke : 

^ Or : for the holy knowledge beyond all thouglit is my lordship 
and sftrength (or, warlike power) without rival. Cp. xii, 141.64. 

2 Or, less likely : and that which in heaven and on earth is the 
everywhere exisTiing something (''the thing-in-itself "). 


The Maid 

" Father, though I am but a young girl, yet I know what the 
difference is on earth between the duties. And as to not being 
angered, and as to speech, I know what ^rength is and what 
weakness is. But that a pupil should bear himself unlike such, 
that, indeed, none should suffer who would fain be of any worth. 
Therefore it pleases me not to dwell among such as bring the 
rightful way into confusion, for the wise man driving after his 
weal shall not dwell among ill-minded folk that by their 
behaviour and origin are a bumbling-block unto others. But 
those that by their behaviour and origin grant him acknowledg- 
ment, among good men such as these shall he dwell ; this 
is called the be^ abode. The dreadful evil, spoken by 
Vrishaparvan's daughter in her words, tears my heart, as he that 
seeks fire tears the kindling-wood. For I deem nothing in 
the three worlds to be harder than to look, when robbed of 
fame and happiness, on the fame and happiness of the rival. 
Death is the besl thing for such a one, as those that know 

Thereupon Qukra, the be^ among the race of the Bhrigus, 
went, ill-pleased, and, without further thought, spoke as follows 
to Vrishaparvan on his throne : " The evil that has been 
done does not at once bring forth its fruit, like the earth 
(gaur iva) ; slowly rolling along, it gnaws at the roots of the doer. 
In the sons and grandsons, if he does not feel it in himself, 
the evil, of a surety, makes itself known, like something heavy 
which a man has eaten, in the body.^ Since thou did^ kill 
the Brahman Kaca then, the Angiras who did no evil, who knew 
virtue, was obedient, and rejoiced in my family, because of the 
murder of that innocent one and because of the murder of my 
daughter — hear me, O Vrishaparvan — I leave thee and thy 
kindred. I cannot dwell together with thee in thy kingdom, O 
king. Ah ! thou take^ me for an empty chatterer, O Daitya, 
that thou doft not hold back from this sin of thine, but do^ 
look on it calmly." Vrishaparvan spoke : " I know of no evil 
and no empty words in thee, O son of Bhrigu ; in thee do dwell 
righteousness and truth. Therefore grant us mercy and forgive- 
ness. If thou leaveft us and goeft forth, we shall leap into the 
sea, we have no other refuge." ^ukra spoke : " Leap into 
^ Cp. xii, 91.21 ; 95.17-18; 139.22; Manu, iv, 172-3. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

the sea, or flee in all direftions of the heavens, O ye Asuras ! 
I can brook no insult to my daughter, for I love her. Soften 
the heart of Devayani, in whom my life is wrapped, and I will 
bring thee welfare and peace, as Brihaspati did to Indra." 
Vrishaparvan spoke : "All that the princes of the Asuras have on 
earth to hold, all their elephants, cattle, and horses, of these all 
thou art the lord, and also of me." Qukra spoke : " If I am 
lord of whatsoever the Daitya princes own, O great Asura, 
then let DevayanI be appeased." Thus addressed, Vrishaparvan 
spoke : " So let it be ! " The son of Bhrigu, he the great wise 
one, went to DevayanI and explained this matter to her. 
DevayanI spoke : " I will not believe it from thee that thou art 
lord over the king's possessions, but the king himself mu^ 
say it." Vrishaparvan spoke : " Whatever thou doft wish, 
O bright-smiling one, that will I give thee, even if it be sore 
hard to get." DevayanI spoke : " I wish for ^armishtha 
as my slave together with a thousand girls, and she shall follow 
me wheresoever my father gives me in marriage." Vrishaparvan 
spoke : " Arise, go, O nurse, and quickly bring (^armishtha 
hither. And whatever the bidding of DevayanI, that shall she 
do." Thereupon the nurse went away and spoke the words to 
^armishtha : " Arise, dear (^armishthii, and bring happiness 
to thine. The Brahman is indeed wont to dismiss his pupils, 
if DevayanI urges him to it. Whatever DevayanI bids of thee, 
that thou mu^ now do, O kindly one." (^armishtha spoke : 
" Whatever her bidding, that will I now do, if ^ukra so calls 
on me for the sake of DevayanI. ^ukra shall not go forth 
through my fault, nor shall DevayanI because of me." There- 
upon in her mildness, at her father's bidding, with a thousand 
girls about her she hazily left the fair city. Qarmishtha spoke : 
" I am thy slave with a thousand slave-girls, thy servant. I 
will follow thee, wheresoever thy father gives thee in marriage." 
DevayanI spoke : " I am for thee the daughter of him that 
praises, begs, accepts. How can it be that the daughter of him 
that is praised becomes the slave ? " (^armishtha spoke : " By 
whatever the means, well-being muft be found for the affliifled 
kindred. Therefore will I follow thee wheresoever thy father 
gives thee in marriage." 

When Vrishaparvan's daughter had promised to be a slave, 


The Maid 

DevayanI spoke to her father the words : " I will go unto 
the city, O father ; I am satisfied, O be^ among the twice- 
born. Thy knowledge and the power of thine art is not for 
nothing." ^ Thus addressed by his daughter, the greatest 
among the Brahmans, the very famous one, went, rejoiced and 
honoured by all the Danavas, into the city. 

Some time later DevayanI of the lovely face went into that 
selfsame foreft to play. Together with these thousand slave- 
girls and (^armishtha she came there to that selfsame spot 
and wandered about to her heart's desire, accompanied by all 
these followers, filled with great joy, as all played merrily,^ 
drank sweet heady drinks, ate cakes of many kinds, and partook of 
fruits. And once again there happened to come hunting this 
way Nahusha's son, the king, craving for water, and worn 
out with weariness. He saw DevayanI and Carmishtha and 
these fair young girls drinking and sporting, decked with god- 
like ornaments. And he saw DevayanI of the bright smile, the 
woman above others, of incomparable form, sitting among these 
maidens, waited on by (^armishtha, who was rubbing her feet 
and doing other services. Yayati spoke : " Two maidens 
surrounded by two thousand maidens ! I ask family and 
name of both of you, O fair ladies." DevayanI spoke : 
" I will tell thee. Hearken unto my words, O Prince of 
men ! (^ukra is the name of the teacher of the Asuras. Know 
then, that I am his daughter. And she there is my friend and 
slave who follows me everywhere — (^armishtha, the daughter 
of the king of the Danavas, Vrishaparvan." Yayati spoke : 
" But how comes it that this fair-faced maiden, the daughter of 
the Asura king, she with the lovely brows, is thy friend and 
slave? I am very curious as to this." DevayanI spoke : "Every 
one, O beft of men, obeys his fate. Look on it as the gift of 
fate, and do not make divers speeches. Thy form and garb 
are as those of a king, and thou speaker the speech of the 
Brahmans (Sanskrit). Who and whence art thou, and 
whose son ? Tell me." Yayati spoke : " As a pupil of the 
Brahmans I have heard the whole Veda, I am a king and a 

^ Or : Thy worldly knowledge is not for nothing, and thou ha^ 
the power of the holy teaching (or : of magical knowledge). 
2 Perhaps more nearly : as all found their pleasure in play. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

king's son, famous under the name of Yayati." Devayani 
spoke : " Why did^ thou come this way ? Would^ thou 
take something dwelHng in the water, or hunt the gazelle ? " 
Yayati spoke : " While hunting gazelle, O kindly one, I came 
hither for water. But now thou haft well que^ioned me.^ 
Give me leave, therefore, to go." Devayani spoke : " With 
two thousand girls and my slave (^armishtha I am at thy 
bidding. Prithee, be my friend and my husband." Yayati 
spoke : " Know thou, O daughter of U^ana, an it please thee, 
I am not worthy of thee, O lovely one. For thy father cannot 
be father-in-law to kings." Devayani spoke : "The warrior 
nobility is closely bound to the Brahmans, the Brahmans are 
linked with the warrior nobility. Come now, son of Nahusha, 
do thou wed me as a Rishi and a Rishi's son." Yayati spoke : 
" Although the four caftes, O fair woman, come from one body, 
yet have they varying duties and varying rules for purity ; 
of them the Brahman is the fir^." Devayani spoke : " Such 
a hand-grasp (as thine) men have not so far practised. Thou 
didft grasp my hand before, therefore do I ask of thee to be my 
husband. How should another now touch the hand of me, the 
proud one, the hand that has been grasped by thee, the son of 
a Rishi, and a Rishi himself ! " Yayati spoke : " As more 
dangerous than an angry, flaming, venomous snake, everywhere 
darting, mu^ the Brahman be recognized by the under^anding 
man." Devayani spoke : " Why saye^ thou- O prince of 
men : More dangerous than a flaming, venomous snake, 
everywhere darting, is the Brahman ? " Yayati spoke : " The 
venomous snake kills one man, and with a weapon one man 
alone is slain ; the Brahman de^roys even cities and 
kingdoms, when he is angered. Therefore do I hold the 
Brahman as more dangerous, O timid one. And therefore I 
will not wed thee, unless thy father gives thee to me." 
Devayani spoke : " Wed me, then, O king, when my father 
has given me thee, and I have chosen thee. For him that asks 
not, and only takes her that is given him, there is no danger." 
Quickly the nurse then faithfully told Devayanl's father all 
that Devayani had entru^ed her with for him. And so soon as 
^ Or : But I am very pressed (I have urgent business : bahudhapy 
anuyukto 'smi). The expression is found several times in the MBh. 


The Maid 

the scion of the Bhrigu had heard, he appeared before the kine. 
And when Yayati, the lord of the earth, saw fulcra coming, 
he showed honour unto the Brahman, the son of Kavi, and 
^ood there with folded hands, humbly bowed. DevayanI 
spoke : " This, O father, is the king, son of Nahusha. When I 
was in evil plight, he clasped my hand. Honour be to thee. 
Give me to him. I will choose no other husband in the world." 
^ukra spoke : " Chosen by this my beloved daughter, take 
her for thy chief wife; I give her thee, O son of Nahusha." 
Yayati spoke : " May this great hurt done to the law that 
comes from the mingling of the ca^es not be avenged here on 
me, O scion of the Bhrigu. On this condition I take thee, O 
Brahman, as father-in-law." Cukra spoke : " I absolve thee 
from the hurt to the law. Choose for thyself a favour thou 
would^ have. Do not be despondent on account of this mar- 
riage.^ I will drive the evil away from thee. Take thou the 
slender DevayanI home as thy wife according to the law and 
cu^om, and with her win incomparable joy. And this maiden, 
too, Vrishaparvan's daughter, Qarmishtha, shalt thou always 
honour, O king ; and do not call her onto thy bed." Thus 
addressed, King Yayati walked round Cukra to the right, and 
celebrated the happy wedding in the way laid down by the 
books of inftrudlion. After he had got from (^ukra many things 
and the mosl; splendid DevayanI, together with two thousand 
girls and Carmishtha, and had been honoured by (^ukra and 
the Daityas, the best of princes came into his city, filled with 
joy, having taken leave of the high-minded one." 

The good daughter whom we have ju^ seen in ^armishtha 
we find also elsewhere. It is now the turn of a Brahman, with 
whom the five fugitive Pandava youths are living, to offer 
himself to an evil Rakshasa. The latter mu^ be given every 
day a cartload of rice to eat, the two oxen drawing it, and the 
man driving them. After the wife has offered to die for the 
Brahman, it goes on (i, 159) : — 

" When the daughter heard the words of the over- 
whelmingly saddened parents, she spoke unto them, her body 
clasped in grief : ' Why do ye weep as bitterly as those beyond 

^ Literally : at this marriage thou shalt not wilt, that is, probably : 
do thou not be weary, have no fear. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

hope, tortured by a mighty sorrow ? Li^en unto my words 
and then do what is befitting. By all that is right, ye two shall 
give me up ; of that there is no doubt. By giving me, who do 
consent, thou shalt save all through me, a single person. This 
is why offspring are wished for : ' They shall save me.' Since 
now the time for it has drawn nigh, cross, with me as the vessel, 
over the misfortune. Here and after death he mu^ rescue from 
danger. In every way the son muft sacrifice himself. That is 
why he is called son by the wise.^ And the ance^ors yearn 
ever for daughter's sons from me. So will I myself save them 
by shielding my father's life. But if thou goeft into that 
world, then this my small brother will soon perish ; of that there 
is no doubt. And if my father should have come into heaven, 
and my younger brother gone to de^rudlion, then the gift of 
cakes for the ance^ors would be cut short ; and that would 
be a misfortune for them. Robbed thus of my father, and of 
my mother and brother, I should surely die, falling from one 
sorrow into a greater, for I am not used to such things as this. 
But if thou haft escaped, safe and sound, then assuredly my 
mother and brother, the child and the family line, and the 
offering to the forbears will be preserved and kept. The son is 
the very self, the wife a friend, but, as all know, the daughter is 
ever a misfortune (kricchra). . . But if I carry out the liberation, 
then my death will bear fruit, after I have carried through 
a very heavy task. But if thou goeft thither, O beft among 
Brahmans, and doft leave me behind, then shall I be in ftraits ; 
therefore look, too, to me. Save thyself for our sake, and for 
the sake of religious duty, and for the sake of the offspring, and 
give up me, who am ready for it. And now let not the time 
go by for this most necessary deed. Indeed, what greater 
misfortune could there be than that we, after thy going home, 
should run round like dogs begging food from Grangers ? But 
if thou and our kinsfolk are set free from this calamity, sound 
and unhurt, then I shall live in happiness, as one that has not 
died in the world. As a result the gods will work well-being 
because of the sacrifices, and, as we have heard, so will the 

^ This is how I try to render the etymological word-play that is 
found countless times : puttra from put + tra. 


The Maid 

ancestors for the sake of the water-offering brought 


" 1 

by th 

In the Ramayana, in the 17th Sarga of the 7th Book, we 
read : " Thereupon Ravana, the ^rong-armed, wandered 
over the earth, and when he had come into the wilderness of 
Himavant, he went about in it. Then he saw a maiden wearing 
a black antelope-skin and penitent's tresses, taken up with the 
work of the holy ones (asceticism), and shining like a goddess. 
When he saw this maiden with the gift of beauty engaged in 
very heavy mortification, he laughed a little, and with senses 
blinded by love he asked : " Wherefore doft thou do this work, 
that is in discord with thy youth .? For it does not befit thee 
thus to aft again^ this beauty. Thy peerless beauty, O timid 
one, which arouses mad love among men, is not there to the 
end that thou should^ be given up to mortification. That is an 
evident conclusion. Whom do^ thou belong to ? Wherefore 
this task ? And who is thy husband, thou with the fair face ? 
Whoever enjoys thee, he is a happy man on earth. Tell me all 
I ask. Wherefore the weariness .? " Thus addressed by Ravana 
the glorious maiden spoke, after she, the penitent, had shown him 
due and proper hospitality : " Ku9adhvaja was the name of 
my father, the Brahman Rishi of boundless fame, the majestic 
son of Brihaspati, equal in soul to Brihaspati. To this high- 
minded one, ever given up to Veda ftudy, I was born as daughter 
out of his words, and VedavatI is the name I bear. Then there 
came gods and Gandharvas, Yakshas, and Rakshasas, and snake- 
demons to my father and deigned to woo me. But my father 
did not give me to them, O Rakshasa prince. I will tell thee why. 
Hearken, O ^rong-armed one. My father would fain have 
Vishnu, the lord of the three worlds, as son-in-law. There- 
fore my father would give me to no other. But when the 
prince of the Daityas, ^ambhu his name, heard of this, he was 
angry with him who boafted his might. This villain did evil to 
my father in the night, as he slept. Then my excellent mother, 

^ I read nah instead of na. The text, after the commentator, means : 
But if thou doft say : " We have heard that the gods and ancestors, 
when there is such an offering (of the daughter by her own father), 
do not work well-being," (then I say) " they do assuredly work well- 
being through the water-offering made by thee." 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

deep ^ricken, clasped my father's body, and went thus into the 
fire. With the resolve : " I will make this wish of my father's, 
directed to Narayana, a true thing," I carry this god now in 
my heart. Now that I have undertaken this vow I am carrying 
out a mighty penance. With this I have told thee all, O 
Rakshasa prince. Narayana will be my husband, and none but 
Purushottama. Thus I am giving myself up to dreadful ascetic 
vows in the yearning for Narayana. I know thee, O king. 
Go, son of Paula^ya. Through my asceticism I know all 
that is in the three worlds." Ravana spoke once more to the 
maiden in the midft of her heavy penance, climbing down 
from his chariot of the gods and ^ricken with the dart of love : 
" Thou art haughty, O fair-hipped one, to cherish such a 
resolve. The Coring up of virtuous merit is something praise- 
worthy for old folk, O gazelle-eyed one. But thou, O timid 
one, that art favoured with every gift, and art the beauty of 
the three worlds, mu^ not speak thus. Thy youthful bloom 
is fleeting. I am the prince of Larika, dear one, famed under 
the name of Da^agrlva. Come, be my wife ; take thy fill of 
pleasures as thy heart may wish. And who is he thou called 
Vishnu ? In valour, asceticism, wealth, strength, O dear one, 
he is not my equal, whom thou, O fair one, yearned after." 
But as he thus spoke, this maiden Vedavatl made answer to the 
night-spirit : " No, do not speak thus ! Who with any under- 
^anding but thee, O Rakshasa prince, could wish to scorn 
Vishnu, the overlord of the three worlds, held in honour by 
the whole world ? " Thus addressed by Vedavatl, the night- 
spirit clutched the maiden by the hair with his fingers. Then 
Vedavatl, filled with anger, cut off her hair with her hand ; 
her hand became a sword, and cut the hair away. As though 
aflame with wrath, as though burning up the night-spirit, 
having laid a fire, she spoke, filled with hafte to die : " Since 
shame has been put on me by thee, thou base one, I will not 
live. O Rakshas, that is why I go before thine eyes into the fire. 
Since I have had shame put on me by thee, evil-minded one, 
in the fore^, therefore will I be born again to thy de^rudlion. 
For a woman cannot slay the man bent on evil. And should I 
utter my curse on thee, then my mortification would come to 
nought. But if I have won any merit through deed, gift, and 


The Maid 

sacrifice, so may I as the fruit of it become the good daughter, 
not born of mother's womb, of a pious man." As soon as she 
had spoken thus, she went into the glowing fire, and from the 
sky there fell around a heavenly rain of flowers. And she was 
born here as the daughter of King Janaka (as Sita from the 

And in other ways, too, it is not always easy for the daughter 
in the Old India of the Epic. So it is when a Brahman comes 
as gue^ ; for this ca^e demands, especially in the Mahabharata, 
the mo^ humble services. In iii, 303 ff., we read : — 

" Once to King Kuntibhoja there came a Brahman, ^rong 
as glowing fire, and very tall,^ with a mou^ache, a ftaff, and 
plaits, lately, with faultless limbs, glowing, as it were, with 
fiery ^rength, yellow as honey, a sweet speaker, decked with 
asceticism and holy ^udies. This very great penitent spoke 
to King Kuntibhoja : " I wish to enjoy alms in thy house, 
thou unselfish one. Nothing that is unpleasing to me 
mu^ be done to me, either by thee, or by thy followers. 
Under these conditions I will dwell in thy house, thou blameless 
one, if so it please thee. And I will go and come entirely at 
my own will, and as to bed and seat none shall be remiss there- 
with." To him spoke Kuntibhoja these kind and joyful words : 
" So let it be, and it is right well." And again he spoke to him : 
" I have a daughter, O wise man, Pritha her name ; glorious 
is the fair one, attended by virtue and a surpassing life, kind and 
dutiful. 2 She will serve thee with reverence and without 
disdain, and for her virtuous ways thou wilt be content with 
her." When he had so spoken unto the Brahman, and had done 
him honour as it is ordained, he went to the maiden Pritha 
of the great eyes and spoke to her : " My child, this mo^ 
excellent Brahman wishes to dwell in my house, and I have 
granted it him with a yea, looking confidently to thee for the con- 
tentment of the Brahman. Therefore may^ thou never belie 
my words. This is a holy penitent, a Brahman who is earne^ly 
set on the ^udy of the Veda. Whatever the moft powerful 
one may ask muft be ungrudgingly granted him. For the 
Brahman is the highe^ power, the Brahman is the highest 
^ Or : landing up high. 
2 Or : self-controlled. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

asceticism ; it is through the honouring of Brahmans that the 
sun shines in the sky. For as the great Asura Vatapi did not 
honour those worthy of honour, he was ^ruck down by the 
Brahman's ^aff,^ and Talajarigha Hkewise. With this a great 
task is now set thee, my child ; do thou bring content to the 
Brahman with con^ant heedfulness. I know, O daughter, thy 
zealous regard for all Brahmans here and for the dignitaries and 
kinsfolk, shown by thee from childhood days. So also do^ 
thou show thyself towards all servants, towards friends, marriage- 
kin, and thy mothers,^ and towards me in every relation,^ 
as is fitting. For there is none here in the city or in the women's 
house, even among thy servants, whom thou do^ not gladden 
by rightful behaviour, thou maiden with faultless limbs. But 
I thought I muft give thee the reminder, O Pritha, as regards 
the wrathful-minded Brahman, thinking ; " Thou art a 
child " and " Thou art my daughter ". Born in the family of 
the Vrishnis, the beloved daughter of Qura, thou wa^ given me 
formerly as a child by thy father himself, bound to me in 
friendship, O thou si^er of Vasudeva, thou the greater of 
my children, after he had promised me in the beginning the fir^- 
born. Therefore thou art my daughter. Born in such a house, 
and brought up in such a house, thou haft come from happiness 
to happiness, as though thou hadft come from out of the sea into 
the sea.* People of bad family, who may somehow have known 
special favour,^ do wrong things out of their foolishness, 
especially women, O sweet one. Pritha, birth in a king's 
family, and wonderful beauty are thine ; with the one and the 

1 Brahmadanda. This expression is often found in the Epic, and 
denotes the might of the Brahman (brahman), reding on the holy word 
of the Veda (brahman); or, the magical, supernatural, deflroying might, 
at work in the curse. See, for example, i, 2.354; 30.11 ; 54.23,25 
(Nil. is wrong here, in spite of 57-5); 57-24; ii> 5-122; 68.46; 
v, 51.8 ; viii, 34.43 ; xii, 39.10 ; 103.27 ; xvi, 1.9 ; 3.40 (cp. 4.3 ; 
8.8,25; Ram. vii, 36.20,30 ; 1,56.19. 

2 Or : mother. " Mothers " is, of course, what all the king's wives 
are called. She had not her real mother at all at Kuntibhoja's court. 

3 Literally: fiDing everything, penetrating. Cp.v, 107.15. 

* Hradad dhradam ivagata. Cp. 1,195.11; v,90.9i,92; I34-I4- 
^ According to the commentator and Bohtlingk (in the Did.) : 
" fall into ^ubbornness," which does not at all fit in. 


The Maid 

other thou ha^ been made happy and endowed, O lovely one. 
If thou shunned pride, deceit, and haughtiness, and bringe^ con- 
tent to the grace-be^owing Brahman, thou wilt Hnk thyself with 
happiness, O Pritha. Thus, thou good one, thou wilt indeed 
attain to goodness, O blameless one. And if the be^ of the 
twice-born is angered, then my whole family will be 

Kunti spoke : " I will, O king, honourably serve the 
Brahman with all heed, according to the promise, O lord of 
kings, and I speak no untruth. And that is my charafter, that 
I honour the Brahmans. And I muft do what is dear to thee, 
and my greatest happiness. Whether the holy one comes at 
evening or in the early morning or in the night or at midnight, 
he will arouse no anger in me. It is a gain for me, O lord of 
kings, to bring salvation to myself, O be^ of men, through 
honouring the Brahmans and faithfully carrying out thy 
bidding. Thou can^ have a calm tru^, O lord of kings ; 
the be^ among the twice-born shall suffer nothing unpleasing 
while he dwells in thy house ; that I swear unto thee. What is 
pleasing to this Brahman and for thy good, O blameless one, 
for that will 1 ^rive, O king. Let the fever in thy soul leave 
thee. For the Brahmans, they marked out by de^iny, can save 
if they arc honoured ; and if not, then they can de^roy. 
Since 1 know this, I shall rejoice the be^ among Brahmans. 
Through me, O king, thou wilt suffer no harm from the 
mo^ excellent of Brahmans. In case of a mi^ake, O prince 
of kings, the Brahmans become a deftruftion to kings, as did 
Cyavana formerly to King ^aryati, because of Sukanya. 
With the greatest zeal will I serve the Brahman as thou did^ 
say unto the Brahman." While the king clasped her in his 
arms and exhorted her, as he repeatedly spoke thus, he told her 
of all that was to be done in this way and that. The king 
spoke : " Thus mu^ thou do it, without hesitation, dear one, 
for the sake of my happiness, of thyself, and of the family, 
O Painless one." 

But when Kuntibhoja, the greatly famed, had thus spoken, 
he gave Pritha over to this Brahman, he the friend to Brahmans. 
" This, O Brahman, is my daughter, a child of tender breeding ; 
if she makes a mi^ake in any wise thou mu^ not take it to 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

heart. The Brahmans, they marked out by de^iny, never in 
general harbour anger again^ the aged, children and the 
sick who may offend againft them. Even w^hen the sin is great 
the twice-born mu^ show a patient forgiveness. Accept thou 
the honour shown to the be^t of her ^rength and powers, 
O be^ among Brahmans." The Brahman agreed, and the 
king with a glad heart allotted him a house, white as the swan 
and the shimmering moon. There he offered him at the place 
of the holy fire a shining seat made ready, food, and the like, 
and all this ju^ as it should be.^ But as the king's daughter 
threw off weariness and likewise pride, she took the utmo^ 
pains to please the Brahman. Thither to the Brahman Pritha 
went, thinking only of purity, and rejoiced him, him worthy of 
service, according to precept like a god. So did the maid living 
under a ^rift vow now rejoice with pure soul the Brahman 
living under a ^ridl vow. Often the be^ of Brahmans spoke : 
" I shall com.e in the morning," and then came back at evening 
or in the night. And this maid did ever do honour to him at 
all hours of the day with hard and soft foods and with comforts, 
which both ever more excelled. The care given him with food 
and the like, as also that for bed and seat, grew greater, not less, 
day by day. And even though the Brahman might scold 
Pritha, abuse her, and utter evil words againsl her, O king, 
yet she did nothing then to annoy him. He would come back 
again at different times, or often not at all, and of some dish 
very hard to get he would say : " Give it me ! " And as she 
brought him all this to his liking, so soon as it was made, 
bearing herself well, like a scholar, a son, a si^er, she aroused 
heartfelt approval in the excelling Brahman, she the pearl of 
maidens, the stainless one. The beft of Brahmans was gladdened 
at her virtuous ways ; then she took the very greater pains ^ 
with ^ill greater heed. At morning and evening her father 
would ask her : " Is the Brahman pleased with thy service, 

1 Tathaiva "ju^ so, moft excellently". Cp. Idrica, tadri?, tatha- 
vidha, tathabhuta "right; excellent," iii, 221.6,9; v, 90.62 ; 
ix, 2.62. 

2 I will read bhuyasa inftead of bhuyo syah. The text would mean 
more or less : Thereupon he took the very greateft pains in the utmo^ 
measure about her. 


The Maid 

daughter ? " The glorious one would answer him : " Very 
much so." At that Kuntibhoja, the high-minded one, felt 
the greate^ joy. When, after a year had gone by, that besl: of 
the prayer-mutterers had seen no evil deeds in Pritha, he was 
delighted at her goodwill. Now when his heart had become 
filled with joy, the Brahman spoke to her : " I am highly 
rejoiced at thy services, thou dear and fair one ; choose gifts 
of grace for thyself, O sweet oiie, such as are hard here on 
earth for man to win, that so through them thou maye^ 
outshine all women in splendour." KuntI spoke : " For me 
all is fulfilled, since thou, O be^ among the knowers of the 
Veda, and my father are sweet-minded towards me. What 
should I do with gifts of grace, O Brahman ? " The Brahman 
spoke : " If thou, kind, bright-smiling one, wisheft for no 
gifts of grace from me, then take from me these words of 
magic for calling up the heaven-dwellers. Whatsoever god 
thou do^ call up by this magic spell, he mu^ be obedient to 
thee ; whether he will or no, he will come up under the spell 
of thy command ; tamed by the magic, the god will bow to 
thee like a servant." The blameless one could not then refuse 
the be^ of Brahmans a second time, fearing his curse. There- 
upon the twice-born one made the maiden with the faultless 
limbs take the set of words which ^ands in the Atharvaciras. 
But when he had given it her, he spoke unto Kuntibhoja .: 
" I have dwelt pleasantly, O king, satisfied by the maiden, 
ever well honoured, while I was lodged in thy house. Now 
I will set forth." With these words he vanished. When the 
king now saw the Brahman vanish before his very eyes, he 
was overcome with a^onishment, and did honour to Pritha. 

Now when this be^ of the twice-born had for some reason 
or other gone away, this maiden pondered on the power or 
otherwise of the magic spell : " What kind of spell has been 
given me then by the high-minded one ? I will learn about 
its ^rength in a short while. As she was thus thinking, she 
happened to notice her monthly flow, and filled with shame was 
the child, who was having the menses in her girlhood (for the 
fir^ time}.^ Then she saw, who was used to a splendid couch, the 

^ This shame is to be set down greatly to her credit. For the coming 
of this event is for the Indian girl a source of pride and rejoicing, like 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

sun's disk rise, reeling in the ea^ on the palace roof. The mind 
and eyes of the slender one clung to it, and as the sun god was only 
ju^ rising she was not annoyed by the heat of his body. She was 
granted the divine sight : she saw the god in his divine 
manife^ation, wearing his armour, adorned with two ear-rings. 
But she was curious as to her magic spell, and so the fair one 
called on this god. As she then moistened her senses' tools 
with water, she called on the maker of day ; he came swiftly, 
honey-yellow, long-armed, muscular-necked, lightly laughing, 
with rings on his arms, a crown on his head, making the lands 
of the world, as it were, to blaze up. Splitting his own self by 
magic into two parts, he came and brightly glowed. Then 
he spoke to Kuntl, with exceeding kind and friendly words : 
" I have become of service to thee, bound by thy magic spell, 
my dear one. What am I to do, as thy vassal, O queen .? 
Speak ! I will do it." Kuntl spoke : " Go thither, O sublime 
one, whence thou came^. It was out of curiosity that I called 
thee. Be merciful to me, O lord." The sun god spoke : " I 
will go, even as thou haft bidden me, O slender one. But it is 
not right to call on a god and send him away for a worthless 

the sprouting of the moa^ache for the youth, and in this she is like he, 
sifters among very many peoples. As almoft everywhere on the earth, 
the girl on the Ganges from her earlieft years knows all about every 
thing, and with her the coming of puberty excites a lively intereft, 
and is even hailed with much rejoicing. That moft delightful thing 
in the world — the maiden blossoming in sweet ignorance, and the half- 
painful, half-joyful emotional billowing of her soul, wrapped in holy 
and pure dream secrets — this, indeed, the Hindu does not know. 
Still this moft delicate, ethereal bloom of European culture is by no 
means so very common amongft us, and, moreover, in our days under 
sentence of death under the dazzling beams of the sun of " sexual 
knowledge " — poor, fairy-tale wonder of the moonlight night. Thus 
no Hindu maiden could give utterance to such a fragrant delicacy oT 
feeling as we find expressed in the faireft puberty poem in the world 
in Neidon valitus, the " Maiden's Lament ", of the Finnish poet 
Eerikki Ticklcn, who died, all too young, in 1827 (cp. J. J. Meyer, 
Fom Land der tausend Seen. Eine Abhandliing iiber die neuere 
finnische Literatur und eine Auswahl aus modernen finnischen 
NovelliHen (p. 33). The reader may be here reminded, too, of 
Peter Hille's wonderful Brauiseele. 


The Maid 

whim. Thy intention is, O lovely one : May I get a son from 
the sun god, one peerless in heroic ^rength, clad in armour, 
decked with ear-rings. Give thyself, then, to me, thou with the 
elephant's gait ; for a son shall be born thee, such as thou 
yearned after, O woman. I will go then, when I have been 
joined with thee, O thou with the lovely smile. If thou wilt 
not do as I say, do what is dear to me,^ then in my anger I 
shall curse thee, and the Brahman, and thy father. Because of 
thee I shall beyond a doubt engulf them all with fire, and thy 
father, moreover, because he gave no heed to thy wrong 
behaviour. And on that Brahman I shall deal out a hard 
chastisement for giving thee the magic spell without knowing 
thy charader and ways. For all the gods in heaven there with 
Indra at their head are witnesses to my having been tricked by 
thee, and are smiling as it were, O lovely one. Look but at 
those bands of the gods, for thou haft that divine sight which 
I firft granted thee and whereby thou haft seen me." Then 
the king's daughter saw all the thirty-three (gods) at their 
ftations in the air, bright as the dazzling, shining, great sun 
god. When the young maiden, the queen, saw them, she spoke 
these words, abashed and fearful, to the sun god : " Go, pray, 
lord of the beams, unto thy heavenly chariot. It was from my 
maidenly nature that the disaftrous miftake arose. ^ Father and 
mother and any other dignitaries there may be have the power to 
beftow this body. I will not do hurt to law and virtue ; in the 
world the safe keeping of the body is held in honour as the 
virtuous way of woman's life. It was to try the might of the 
magic spell that I called thee, O shining one. ' From childish 
want of underftanding the child did it,' is what thou mayeft 
think,^ and forgive me for this, O my lord." The sun god 
spoke : " Since I think that it is a child, I will utter unto 
thee friendly words ; no other would get such mild words. 

^ Literally perhaps : " If thou doft not make my dear words true," 
which would remind us of Homeric expressions, or in which " dear "^= 
pleasant, friendly. 

2 Cp. V, 144.22 ; XV, 30.9. 

3 Tatkritva; oftener, iti kritva. i, 34.3 ; 7.17; iii, 18.9; 208.17; 
302.4; 303.22; 306.25; iv, 20.3 f. ; xiv, 19.78 ; xv, 9.8 ; evam 
kri, iii, 138.25. See also xii, 318.32. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Give thyself to me, Kunti girl, and thou wilt find peace, O 
timid one. And it is not fitting for me that I should go forth 
as one that has been wrongly treated, without having been 
united with thee, O timid fair one, after being called up by a 
spell. I shall fall a vidim to laughter in the world, O maiden 
with faultless limbs, and to all the gods, O lovely one, I should 
be blameworthy. Unite thyself with me ; thou shalt get a 
son like unto me ; in all the worlds thou wilt assuredly ^and 

In spite, however, of her many friendly words, this sensible 
maiden could not soften the thousand-beamed one. When the 
young girl could not send off the scarer of darkness, she pondered 
now for a while, filled with fear of his curse : " How shall it 
be that the curse of this wrathful sun god may not, because of 
me, light upon my father and likewise the Brahman ? And 
he that is young and foolish muft not through blindness let 
fiery strength and the power of penitence, which, indeed, have 
brought much disa^er, come near unto him. For how can I, 
who am now so tortured, how can I myself boldly take in hand 
and carry out my be^owai on the man, which does not befit 
me ? " Dreading the curse, with many wavering thoughts in 
her heart, gripped in her limbs by a swimming weakness, 
smiling ever and again, and filled with anxiety for her kindred, 
the curse-afeared one spoke to the god in a voice quivering 
with shame : " My father is alive, O god, and my mother and 
my other kinsfolk. So long as they ftill live let not the holy 
precept be thus broken. If the unlawful union with thee should 
come about, O god, then the good name of my family in the 
world would come to nought because of me. But if thou holdeft 
this to be right and virtuous, O be^ of the shining ones, without 
the bestowal by my kindred, then I will fulfil thy wish. But 
if I have given myself up to thee, O thou so hard to overcome, 
then I am an unchaste woman. In thee abides the right, the 
splendour, and the good name of mankind." The sun god 
spoke : " Neither father, mother, nor dignitaries have any 
power in this,^ O thou with the bright smile and fair hips. 

^ Literally : The father has not the disposal of thee, the mother has 
not the disposal of thee, nor, etc. Or perhaps less well : Not thy 
father, not thy mother, nor the dignitaries have power (the disposal). 


The Maid 

Be pleased to hear my words. Since she covets all, and is from the 
root " to covet ", O lovely one, therefore (she) is the " maiden ", 
the fair-hipped, (and she ^ands) alone, O lovely-faced one.^ 
Thou wilt have done no wrong whatever, fair one. How could 
I in my love for the world choose a wrong deed ! All women 
and men are without re^raint, O lovely-faced one. This is 
the real nature of mankind, any other is to speak untruly, as 
the holy tradition teaches. After union with me thou wilt 
again be a virgin, and thy son will become ^rong-armed and 
greatly famed." KuntI spoke : " If a son shall come to me from 
thee, thou scatterer of all darkness, who is decked with ear- 
rings, clad in armour, a hero, ^rong-armed and very mighty. 
. . ."2 The sun god spoke : " He will be ^rong-armed and 
decked with ear-rings, and wear divine armour. And both, 
O kind one, will be made for him from the Immortal." ^ 
KuntI spoke : " If that is of the Immortal — the two ear-rings, 
and the splendid harness of my son, whom thou would^ beget 
with me — then let my union with thee, O sublime god, come 
about, as thou ha^ said. And may he be endowed with thy 
hero's ^rength, thy form, bravery, and power, and with 
virtue." The sun god spoke : " Aditi, O queen, has given 
me ear-rings, thou that art as one drunk ; them I will give 
him, O timid one, and this mo^ excelling armour." KuntI 
spoke : " That is well indeed. I will unite myself with thee, 
if my son shall be as thou sayeft, O lord of the beams." 
" Good," answered the sky-wanderer, Svarbhanu's foe, joined 
himself with KuntI, taking on a magic body, and touched her 
on the navel. Thereupon the maid swooned, as it were, through 

K. (308.12) reads more smoothly pradane te in^ead of vararohe. Cf. 
Markandeyapur., cxiii, 14 : In all things one shall li^en to the Gurus 
(dignitaries), but in love they have nothing to say. 

^ Kanya (maiden, virgin), that is to say, is held to come from kam 
to covet. 

2 K. has deftroyed the beauty of this unfinished sentence by a third 
^loka line : astu me sarngamo, deva, anena samayena te. 

^ That is, they are themselves indertru6i:ible, and beftow immunity 
on their wearer ; death, too, has no power over him (iii, 300.17—20). 
Cp. i, 330.10 fF. ; iii,3io.ioff.; 301.17. As is well known, the world's 
literature, particularly the Indian, shows very many such magic things. 

c 33 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

the fiery ^rength and maje^y of the sun god, and she, the 
queen, now fell with confused mind on to the couch. The 
sun god spoke : " I shall bring it about : thou wilt bear a son 
who is the fir^ among all that bear arms, and thou wilt be a 
virgin." Then spoke the young woman, filled with shame, 
to the sun god, the many-beamed, as he proceeded : " So let 
it be." ^ When the daughter of the king of the Kunti 
thus had spoken, prayerful and ashamed, to the sun god, she 
fell onto that pure couch, overcome in a swoon, like a broken 
tendril. He of the sharp beams bewildered her with his 
fiery ^rength, united with her through his magic power, 
and made her his own ; and the sun god did not dishonour 
her. 2 And then the young woman got back her senses again. 
Then the fruit of Pritha's body came into being, on the 
eleventh day of the bright half of the moon, as in heaven 
did the ruler of the ^ars. For fear of her kinsfolk the young 
woman kept this child secret, she, the lovely-hipped one, 

^ My translation of sadhayishyami and prafthita is quite a possible 
one, and it was chosen so as to make the tale in some measure consi^ent 
with itself. But the natural reading would be : " I will now go off, 
thou wilt, etc. Then spoke the young woman ... as he went off, etc." 
In the following there is a change from the ^loka into the trishtubh ; 
it is evidently a piece from another account which was inserted without 
the joins being properly filled in — a con^ant pradice in the MBh. 
The gloka and the fir^ version is taken up again with : " Then Pritha 
conceived a fruit of her body." Were it not for gl. 125, the two 
trishtubh could naturally be easily taken as a concluding summary ; 
with that gloka this is difficult, if we take sadhayishyami and prafthita 
in the usual meaning. There is probably, too, an unskilful join made 
in the tale in so far as the sun god " touches (the woman) on the 
navel ", after the way of ascetics who do not want to harm their 
charity and yet to help in bringing a son into being (e.g. Jataka, 
Nos. 497 and 540 ; Windisch, Buddhas Geburt, etc., p. 20 ff. ; 
Reitzenftein, Zeitschr. f. EthnoL, Bd. 41, p. 648). Of course, 
divyena vidhina in 308.1 3 seems to point to exactly such a begetting — 
which allusion, however, may be secondary — and impregnation 
through the touch of the hand, is often found in India and elsewhere 
(e.g. i, 104.51 f.). 

2 Did not de^roy her maidenhead, or reftored it again after union. 
P. 33, line 9, inftead of " ^ill be a virgin ", perhaps : " be a virgin 


The Maid 

and folk noticed nothing about her. For no other woman 
knew of it but her nurse's daughter, a young girl in the city, 
who well underwood how to shield her. Later in due time 
the lovely-faced one brought forth her child, and as an un- 
harmed virgin through the favour of that god : like an 
immortal, wearing armour and shining ear-rings of gold, 
yellow-eyed, bull-shouldered, ju^ as his father. And so 
soon as the lovely one had borne this child, she took counsel with 
the nurse, and laid it in a cheft that was well lined all round, 
waxed over, soft and easy, and well fastened ; and weeping, 
she set the child forth thus in the river A^va. Though 
she knew that a maid muft bear no fruit of her body, yet she 
wailed bitterly out of love for her little son. The words 
spoken in tears then by Kuntl, as she set him forth in the che^ 
in the river's waters — hear them : " Good come to thee from 
the beings in the air and the earth and in the sky and those 
in the water, my little son ! Blessed be thy paths ! May the 
waylayers keep far from thee ! And even so may they that 
have come hither along the road (agata) be friendly-hearted 
towards thee ! May King Varuna, the prince of the waters, 
watch over thee in the water, and in the air the god of 
the wind, who is in the air, and goeth everywhere. May 
thy father ward thee everywhere, the shining one and be^ 
of the shining ones, who has given me thee, O son, in divine 
wise. May the Aditvas, Vasus, Rudras, Sadhyas, and the 
All-gods, the Maruts together with Indra, and the quarters of 
the world with the wardens thereof watch over thee, may all 
the gods watch over thee on smooth and on rugged paths ! 
I shall know thee, too, abroad, for the armour betrays thee, 
Happy, my son, is thy father, the blazing sun god, who sees 
thee in the river with his god's eye. Happy the woman 
who shall take thee for son, O son, and whose brea^ thou 
shaltthir^ily suck, thou god-begotten one ! What (happiness- 
bringing) dream she indeed had who makes thee to be her son, 
thee blazing like the sun, endowed with heavenly armour, 
decked with heavenly ear-rings, thee that ha^ long white 
lotus-eyes, that shine^ like a red lotus-leaf,^ that ha^ a lovely 

^ Literally : shining like the red leaf of the lotus. We should 
exped something like padmatamradalaushthakam, " with lips like a 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

forehead and lovely hair. It is happy folk that will see thee, 
my son, a little crawler about the earth and, covered in du^, 
babbling darling words. Happy folk will see thee then, my 
son, come into the years of youth, like the maned lion born 
in the Himalaya forc^." Pritha having thus bitterly lamented 
in various wise, now set forth the che^ on the waters of the 
A^va river. Weeping, tortured with sorrow for her son, and 
filled with the yearning to see him, then Pritha, the lotus- 
eyed, in the middle of the night together with her nurse, 
again came into the king's palace, sick with sorrow, after 
having had the box sent drifting away through fear le^ her 
father should come to know of the thing. But the che^ 
swam from the A^va river into the river CarmanvatI, from the 
CarmanvatI into the Yamuna, and from there into the Ganga. 
On the Gangii the child in the che^ came into the territory 
of the chariot-driver, to the city of Campa, as the little one 
was carried along by the waves. ^ 

red lotus leaf." But the red hue of the new-born is also referred to 
elsewhere in the MBh. 

1 There he is found by Adhiratha, the chariot-driver of 
Dhritarashtra, who takes him to himself as child, and brings him up. 
The same talc is told earHer, i, 67.129 fF., and shorter i, in. According 
to the former, and according to i, 122.35—37, Durvasas says from the 
beginning that the purpose of the magic is that Kunti may get a son 
from any god she may call up ; and we have not to do, as we clearly have 
in our account, with a begetting without the virginity being deftroyed ; 
but we find : " And the god of the brightest splendour gave her back 
her maidenhead" (i, in. 20). With this xv, 30.16 also agrees. 
The Brahman of this account was called Durvasas. 

V/ith the motive of the exposed Perseus or Cyrus or of " Moses in the 
bulrushes " (in his case smeared over with clay and pitch, 2 Moses, 
ii, verse 3) and of KuntI, the maiden-mother, compare how in the 
Shahnameh Darab is exposed by his mother Humai on the Euphrates in 
a precious small chesT: dire£lly after his birth, and is found and adopted 
by washer-folk ; Jataka, v, p. 429 ; Chauvin, vii, 97 ; Hertel, 
Hemacandra's Pariijishtaparvan, ii, 238, and his references, p. 228, 
as also ZDMG {Zeitsc/i. d. deutsch. morgcnl. Ges.), Bd. 65, p. 438 f . ; 
H. Schurtz, Vrgeschichte der Kultur (1900), p. 578 ; " The Wicked 
Stepmother " in Aino Tales, by Basil Hall Chamberlain, privately 
printed for the Folk Lore Society, xxii, p. 48 ; and above all Frobenius, 


The Maid 

With this, however, the sorrow that was to light upon the 
king's daughter from this child Karna had only begun. Karna 
becomes, indeed, the friend and faithful comrade of Duryod- 
hana, the fierce foe of her later children, the Pandavas, and 
in the desperate fight that breaks out between these and the 
Kauravas he fights with overwhelming and crushing heroic 
might again^ his brothers, especially againft his rival Arjuna. 
When the young Pandavas have served their full time, their 
teacher Drona makes them show their skill before a splendid 
fe^al gathering. Arjuna stands out before all the others. 
Then a wonderful hero comes onto the arena, Karna, and does 

Zeita/ter des Sonnengottes, Bd. i, p. 223 fF. ; and P. Saiiityves, Les 
vierges meres et les naissances miraculeuses (Paris, 1908). The two 
la^-named works are, I am sorry to say, not to my hand, and I know 
them only from reviews. Supernatural fertilization has been very 
thoroughly treated by E. S. Hartland, Legend of Perseus, vol. i, and 
then in the earlier chapters of his careful and luminous book, Primitive 
Paternity (1909). As is well known, girls at the coming of puberty 
or of the firft monthly course muil among the moft various peoples 
and tribes of the earth be carefully looked after, generally even shut 
up for a shorter or longer time, and especially kept from the sun ; 
and it is quite an aftonishment when we are told by C. G. and 
Brenda Z. Seligmann, The Veddas (Cambridge, 191 1), p. 94, that this 
people, both on this and remarkably so on many other points (cp. for 
inflance, p. 190 f.), has no superftitions, except where it has lo^ some 
of its primitiveness through contaft with foreigners. The girl is at 
this very time highly susceptible to magical influences, and easily brings 
ill-hap on others. It is particularly by the sun or its beams that women 
in general and above all at the firft monthly course can be impregnated. 
See Frazer, The Golden Bough (igoo), iii, p. 204 ff., especially 219 and 
222, and the evidence there ; Hartland, Primitive Paternity, i, 25 f., 
89 ff., 97 fF. ; Anthropos, Bd. vi, p. 699 ; Bd. vii, p. 93 ; Crooke, 
Popular Religion and Folk-Lore of Northern India, new ed., i, li, 69, 
and the references there ; Reitzenftein, Zeitschr. f. Ethnol., 1909, 
p. 658 f. ; R. Schmidt, Liebe u. Ehe in Indien, p. 477. With Kunti's 
swoon, cf. the Maidu Indian tale of Oankoitupeh, the red cloud's 
son, Hartland, loc. cit., i, 195 f. A Rajput tale often reminding us of 
the MBh. tale is given by Tod, Rajafthan, i, 251-52 ; and that the 
Rajput should thus trace the origin of one of their kings to the sun 
seems the more natural in that it is their higheft god (Tod, Rajalihan, 
i, 596 #., 250). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

all the feats which Arjuna had ju^ been the only one to do ; 
and when Arjuna flies into a rage, the unwelcome new-comer 
calmly challenges him to a duel with bow and arrow. The 
whole gathering, however, is very deeply roused. " The 
audience split into two, among the women two parties were 
formed ; but Kuntibhoja's daughter swooned away, when 
she saw what was happening. As Kunti thus lay in a swoon, 
Vidura, the knower of all duties, brought her to herself again 
through the servant-maids with sandal-water. When her 
life-spirits had now come back again, and she saw her two sons 
equipped for the fray, she was utterly bewildered, and knew 
not what to do." ^ She has then to see how the noble splendid 
Karna is put to shame, firft because of the darkness of his 
origin, then because of his supposed father, Adhiratha, the 
chariot-driver (i, 136 f). 

Here the party of the Pandavas wins the vidory ; from fear 
left Arjuna, their pride, should be overcome by Karna, they 
trick Karna shamefully. But afterwards it would be a gift 
of heaven beyond price for the Pandavas, if they could win 
him. KuntI herself then takes tlie ^ep that is so painful for 
her : she goes to Karna, juft when he is carrying out his 
worship of the sun god at the river's shore, waits humbly in 
the burning glow till he is done, and then discloses to him that 
he is not the chariot-driver's son, but her sun-god-begotten 
virgin-child, and drives to unite him with his brothers. But 
the mighty one fir^ remonstrates with her for having treated 
him before in so unmotherly wise, and having ruthlessly 
deprived him of the warrior's sacraments and the career laid 
down for him, while now she was seeking him out for her own 
ends. He declares both the words of his mother and the 
voice that comes solemnly from the sun, confirming and 
supporting what she had said, to be false. Then in a speech 
showing the inborn nobility of the soul of this the finesT: hero 
in all Indian literature he makes known his resolve to Stay 
faithful until death to his lords and friends the Kauravas, 

1 Or : she was at a loss (na kirncit pratyapadyata). See vi, 
119.111,115; 120.16. Bohtlingk wrongly has: " kept calm " 
(but so it probably is in v, 73.20 ; vii, i 34.24). 


The Maid 

although for him it were better otherwise,^ But to the 
mother, filled with care about her other sons, he gives the 
great-hearted promise to spare them all in the fight ; only 
with Arjuna will he fight a life and death druggie. Thus did 
Karna lose her for ever (v, 144 fF. ; cp. xii, 1.18 fF. ; 6.9 fF.). 

Many years after the bloody battles, when the sun's great 
son has long been slain through low cunning, KuntI is ^ill 
being irked by the memory of her youthful sin, for which 
fate is punishing her so heavily, and to which she had been led, 
setting aside a forgivable maiden curiosity, mainly by her 
loving thought for her father and the holy Brahman. She 
gives a short tale of what happened to her then with the sun 
god, and declares : " Although I knew my son, yet in my 
blindness I left him unnoticed. This is burning me." The 
holy Vyasa, however, consoles her : " Thou did^ do no sin, 
and didft become a maid again. ^ And the gods of a truth 
have dominion in their hands ; men's virtue is not brought to 
shame ^ by the virtue of the gods. All for the ^rong is whole- 
some, for the ftrong all is pure, all for the ^rong is rightful 
and virtuous, all belongs to the ^rong" (xv, 30 ; cp. Kuntl's 
lament for Karna, xv, 16. 1 1 ff. ; also xi, 27.6 fF.). 

SatyavatI, the mother of the famous Vyasa, held to be the 
compiler of the Vedas and author of the Mahabharata, offers 
less resi^ance than the maidenly KuntI. She had come into 

^ Karna knows that the Pandavas will win, but withal he has already 
refused Krishna, who has enlightened him as to his origin and tried to 
win him, by the mo^ splendid promises, over to the Pandavas (v, 140). 
The great-souled hero answered him that his fofter-father and fofter- 
mother had done everything for him, that he loved them, and muft 
bring them the anceftral offering, and so cannot but be true to the 
Kauravas (v, 141). 

2 Hardly : " Thou hadft then become a maid," and so hadft a right to 
sexual mating. That would indeed agree with the Brahmanic teaching, 
that she should have been wedded before, but not at all with the 
cuftoms of the Epic. Probably ftill less : " Thou hadft fallen a vidim 
to thy maiden nature," didft only ad through want of underftanding. 

^ Or : " harmed." The maiden's virtue, chaftity, has not suffered, 
although here the god's righteousness and virtue, his generative hero 
nature, not bound by men's laws, came into flrife with her. According 
to v, 1 4 1. 3, the sun god bade KuntI expose Karna. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

being in the belly of a fish in an extraordinary way, to be referred 
to later, and had come out when the creature, really a bewitched 
Apsaras, had been cut open. She was given by her maker to 
a fisherman, and was wondrous fair ; only she had a fish-like 
smell. Her footer- father had a ferry-boat over the Yamuna, 
and she took over its working for him. Then there came one 
day the Rishi or holy man Para^ara to be ferried over. He 
at once fell in love with the lovely-thighed one, and without 
waiting made her his proposal : " Be joined with me, lovely 
one ! " She spoke : " See, O holy man, the Rishis are standing 
on the other shore. How could we unite while they see us ? " 
Thus addressed by her, the holy and glorious, the mighty one, 
brought about a mi^ by which that whole neighbourhood 
was changed, as it were, into one ilretch of darkness. But 
when she now saw this mift, made by the excelling Rishis, 
the maiden was greatly a^onished and ashamed, poor girl. 
SatyavatI spoke : " Know, O holy man, that I am a maid, 
and ^ill subje61: to my father. Through a union with thee 
my maidenhead would be loft, O blameless one. And if my 
maidenhead is harmed, how shall I be able, O Rishi, be^ of 
the twice-born, to go home ? I cannot then live, O wise man. 
Think over this, O glorious one, and then do what lies next 
to hand." To her thus speaking, said the he^ of the Rishis, 
filled with joy and love : " When thou ha^ done me this 
favour, then shalt thou become a maid again. ^ And choose 
thyself, thou fearful one, a favour thou would^ have, O fair 
one. For never up to now has my goodwill been without 
result, thou with the bright smile." Thus spoken to, she 
chose the lovelie^ sweet scent in her limbs, and the holy man 
gave her what she yearned for above all. After she had won 
the favour, filled with joy, and decked with the greater gift 
of woman (a sweet smell), she united herself with the wonder- 
working Rishi. Hence her name GandhavatI (the fragrant 
one) came to be renowned on earth. The scent of her was 
smelt by men here below a Yojana (" mile ") away. There- 
fore her other name is Yojanagandha. Thus was SatyavatI 
joyful, having received the incomparable favour, and united 
^ Or less likely : " ^ill be wholly a maid " (kanyaiva tvarn 


The Maid 

herself with Para^ara and bore at once the fruit of her body " 
(i, 63.67 ff.). SatyavatI herself tells this tale shorter (i, 105.5 ^0 
There she says that the fear, too, of the holy man's curse, 
not only this gracious gift, had influenced her, and that the 
Rishi enjoyed her in the boat, and bade her expose the child 
on an island in the river ; and that thereupon she had 
become a maid again. 

This wondrous keeping or re^oring of maidenhead is often 
found elsewhere in the Mahabharata. The tale of the princess 
Madhavi reminds us of one of Boccaccio's novels. There 
was a pious disciple of Vi^vamitra, by name Galava, who 
after serving long was dismissed by his teacher. He insisted 
on paying the holy man the teacher's fee, so that he (the teacher) 
at la^ grew angry, and named him as the price eight-hundred 
noble, moon-white ^eeds, each with one black ear. At 
length the desperate, vainly-seeking Galava comes to King 
Yayati. He, indeed, cannot fulfil his reque^ for these rare 
beasls, either, but in fear of the dreadful results of refusing a 
suppliant he gives him his young daughter Madhavi, whom 
for her loveliness even gods and spirits desire, and lets him 
know that kings would give him as the price of her a whole 
kingdom, not to speak of eight hundred such black-eared horses ; 
the only condition he would make for himself is that her sons 
may make the ance^ral sacrifice for him. Fir^ of all Galava 
goes with the fascinating beauty to King Harya^va, who 
sees by the build of her body that she, who is a sight for the 
heavenly ones themselves, c?n give life to many sons, and even 
to a world-ruler. But when the love-sick one hears of the 
extraordinary price to be paid, he sighs sorrowfully, and 
acknowledges he can give only two hundred such horses. 
For these Galava shall let him beget but one son with her. 
In this ^Irait Madhavi now tells him : " I was granted a 
grace by a man learned in the Veda : ' After each birth thou 
wilt become a maid again.' Give me to the king, so soon 
as thou ha^ received two hundred peerless ^eeds. By means 
of four kings thou wilt thus get my full eight hundred horses, 
and I shall get four sons." So then Galava gives Harya^va 
the maiden for a fourth of the price, that he may live with her 
till she has borne him a son. After this happy event has come 

c 41 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

about he then goes with Madhavi, who by the power of her 
wish has become a maid again, to King Divodasa, who has 
already heard of the famous beauty and her flory and rejoices 
greatly. He, too, can only give two hundred such animals, 
and is allowed to beget one son with her. The next visit of 
the two is to King Uglnara ; he gives his two hundred horses 
and with the glorious one he lives a life of joy in mountain 
grottoes and by river waterfalls, in gardens, groves, and forces, 
in lovely palaces and on ca^le-towers, in windowed imperial 
abodes and bedchambers, till, after the birth of a son, Galava 
comes and demands the woman back again from him. The 
bird king Garuda now tells the owner of the six hundred 
wonderful ^eeds that there are no more on this earth, tor 
originally there were only a thousand, and the other four 
hundred have been carried away by the river Vita^a, as they 
were trying to get them across. He is to offer the lovely one, 
he tells him, to his teacher for two hundred such ^eeds. Thus 
it is, and Vi^vamitra, who is, indeed, a judge of woman's 
charms, is at once satisfied, and even exclaims : " Why did^ 
thou not at once give me her here at the beginning ? Then 
I should have got four sons from her to carry on the line." 
She bears him a son, and later he withdraws into the fore^ 
as an ascetic, giving her up to his disciple Galava, who brings 
her back to her father. Her father now wishes to hold a great 
choosing of a husband, but she takes to a life in the fore^ and 
becomes a di^inguished penitent (v, 1 14 ff.).^ 

Draupadi, too, the leading heroine of the Mahabharata, 
after union ^ill bears the flower of her maidenhood unplucked. 
She is wedded to the five Pandavas one after the other, and we 
hear : " In this wise the king's five sons, the splendid chariot- 
fighters, the gloriously-made, continuers of the Kaurava race, 
then took the splendid woman by the hand, each one on his 
day. And this miracle surpassing all that is human is 
proclaimed by the divine Rishi : the lovely one with the 
glorious waift, the very mighty one, at the end of each day 
became a maid again " ^ (i, 198. 11 ff.). The Rishi is Vyasa, 
himself the child of a semper virgo^ as has already been said. 

1 Cf. Crooke, Popular Religion and Folk-Lore, etc., ii, 204. 

2 Or : was rtill a maid Cbahhuva kanyaiva). 


The Maid 43 

Here, however, we mu^ so underhand it that Draupadi 
gets back (or, keeps) her maidenhead, only four times, that 
she may fall into the arms of each of the five brothers as 
untouched. For the maidenhead is, as in Old India in general, 
set very high in the Epic likewise.^ xiii, 36-17, ^ates : 

1 What is, perhaps, very generally known from the novel Nena Sahib, 
by Sir John RatcIifFe (a Berlin writer whose real name I cannot now 
with certainty call to mind) is borne witness to by the Centuries of 
Hala for older times, too ; there the anarndavada, " the cloth (garment) 
of bliss " is publicly shown with rejoicings on the morning following 
the bridal night ; though in this case it is not dyed with " the shed 
blood of innocence ", for a young rascal goes by it and slily grins to 
himself (No. 457). Particularly rich in information here is Kautilya. 
See my translation (Leipzig, 1926), p. 357.6 ff . ; 35 ff. The little 
tricks of the ladies, of which Brantome can tell us, were, then, already 
known in Old India. He tells us that down to his time in Spain after 
the depucellement of brides their linge teint de gouttes de sang was 
publicly shown through the window, with loud cries of: Virgen la 
tenemos, and that there was a like cuftom in Viterbo. Then he 
entertains us with an account of how those daughters of Eve, who have 
already nibbled from the tree of knowledge, supply what is lacking 
by art, and with a merry tale of one who quite fruitlessly made use of 
the red juice she had so carefully brought with her, and fruitlessly 
for the same reason that Iseult White-hand fortifies herself so Wrongly 
to no purpose against the bTiorming of her treasury of love (Heinrich 
von Freiberg, Triflan, 698 ff.). See Brantome, (Euvres compl. ed. du 
Pantheon lit. vol. ii, pp. 242 b, 332 b. Among the Yurakara in South 
America, the smock of the bridal night was carried round in triumph 
(Mantegazza, Geschlechtsverhdltnisse, p. 253). The Arabs, too, 
publicly show the Gained bed-clothes {Anthropos, iii, p. 184 f.). 
So, too, among the South Slavs, the bed-linen and the bride's smock 
are or were searched for the signs of maidenhead, and the happy find 
was hailed with joy (Krauss, Sitte und Branch der Siidslaven, pp. 225, 
461 f). Quite the same thing happens among the Russians and other 
Slavs {Zeits. d. Ver.f. Volkskunde, Bd. i 5, p. 438 f ), as also among the 
Turks in Bulgaria (ibid., Bd. 4, p. 272). Among the F6 in Togo 
the man sends the bedding next morning to the mother-in-law, and 
if this is not marked as it should be, the parents have to find out the 
evil-doer {^Anthropos, vii, 296). Cf. 5 Moses, xxii, verses 15-17; 
and further Ploss-Bartels, Das Weib^, i, pp. 365 ff. ; my transl. of 
Kautilya, 358.27 ff. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

" Conceit de^roys the happiness of a man of shallow under- 
handing, it is by a pregnancy that the maiden is robbed of 
honour,^ and through dwelHng and laying in the house the 
Brahman." And according to vii, 73.17, the man who enjoys 
a woman that has already been enjoyed by another belongs to 
the abominable whose lot in the world beyond is a dreadful 
one. However, what is in mind here, at lea^ in the fir^ 
place, is a girl that has loft her maidenhead and is taken to wife. 
But all the shame and guilt does not fall withal, as it does in 
almoft all lands, on her that has ftrayed, but we are told : 
" A third of the murder of a Brahman (that is, of the moii 
heinous of all crimes) is what the sinning virgin (kanya 
dushyatl) takes on herself ; but he that brings shame on her 
takes two thirds " (xii, 165.42, 34).^ The heedless giving of 

^ Or : ruined (dushyate). 

2 The law books deal juft as ^ernly with the maidenhood of the 
girl. Only the unsullied one can receive the woman's consecration, 
the regular wedding. Manu, viii, 226 ; ix, 176. It is only her son that 
takes his father's cafte. Manu, x, 5 ; ApasTiamba, ii, 6, 13.1 fF. A man 
is only to wed a maiden that as yet has had nothing to do with a man. 
Vasishtha, viii, i ; Gautama, iv, i, etc. The bride's failings muft, 
according to the law writings, be faithfully made known before she is 
given away, and, besides certain bodily faults, among these is the loss 
of maidenhead. Narada, xii, 36, etc. Anyone making a false accusation 
againft a maid of breaking her charity mu^ pay 100 pana. Manu, 
viii, 225 ; Yajiiavalkya, i, 66; Narada, xii, 34; but according to 
Vishnu, V, 47, the higheft possible money atonement (uttama sahasa). 
Cf. my transl. of Kautilya, 357.12 if. ; addit. 357.12-1 5. Defloration 
and intercourse with a girl is heavily punished. In that case the evil- 
doer's property shall be confiscated, and he banished ; while the king 
mu^ then see to it that sinful maidens such as these shall be saved 
and kept from going wrong. This is the teaching of Apaftamba, ii, i o, 
26.21-24. Manu, viii, 368, lays it down: He that dishonours a 
maid shall pay 200 pana, if it was done with her will. According to 
Narada, xii, 71—72, that is not an offence; but the man muft 
honourably wed the girl. Yajnavalkya, ii, 288, holds that if the girl 
belongs to a lower cafte than the man, then it is not an offence, a view 
which others do not share. If a man lie with a maid against her will, 
or with one of a higher ca^e, then there are very iiern laws, of which 
later. Indeed, union with a maiden is the same as ince^ or a wrongful 
aft with the teacher's wife, that is it is the moft heinous thing there is. 


The Maid 

herself to the man by the virtuous maid, which we find so 
often in the tales of other peoples, especially the Europeans, 
and later in India likewise, which indeed in many literatures 
is found as something quite a matter of course, is a thing 
unknown in the Epic. Devayanl's view in i, 83.1-8 is 
a monsT:rosity of Brahman arrogance. True, one might 
be inclined to apply the words : " My yoke is sweet and my 
burden is light," to the Gandharva marriage, with which 
in the Epic even the noble, though untried and innocent 
Cakuntala contents himself. But, for the consciousness of the 
Epic, this form is lawful and blameless and the woman at lea^ 
treats it as holy and binding, whether the man would like to 
override it or not. 

But in spite of the delightful, shy maids, if not always very 
hard to win, that are set before us in the Epic, we get the 
decided impression now and again that here too the woman 
in love takes the fir^ ^ep, as in general we may hold it to be 
the mark of Eastern narrative literature. ^ Thus in the 
Mahabharata we meet with more than one of these 
aggressive young women, spiritually akin to the already 
introduced Devayanl. 

When a maiden, threatened by a ravisher, weeping aloud, 
calls out she wants a husband (iii, 223, 6 ff.), that can be under- 
wood. On the other hand, iii, 224.30 ff. does not agree so 
well with the ordinary rules of womanly reserve ; here we firid 
a reversal, as it were, of the tale of Amphitryon, which is 
met with in so many variations. 

Yajnav., iii, 231 ; Manu, xi, 58 (milder, 62 if. ; in 58 perhaps 
kumarishv antyajasu to be taken together). The Mahanirvanatantra 
also agrees with this, and says that the sinner muft have his member 
cut off. Agnipurana, 173, strophe 5015-51, lays it down that such a 
sinner mu^ leave life behind him ; it is on the same level with inceft. 
And so on with other examples. That girls should come to be mothers 
is a thing that can only happen in the age of Kah. Narada, i, 31. 
And the deflowering of maids is one of the horrors that spread around 
under a bad king. MBh., xii, 90.39. 

^ Manu, viii, 365, lays it down, too, expressly : A maiden that 
enjoys (bhajanti) a man of high cafle goes unpunished : but if she 
has a love affair (sevamana) with one of lower cafle (jaghanya), she is 
to be shut up in her house (till she comes to her senses). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

The seven Rishis by the might of their spell called down 
Agni from the sun to their sacrifice, that he might take it to 
the gods. He saw there the wives of the holy men, all seven 
like wondrous ^ars to behold. He fell hotly in love with 
them, but reproached himself for his own foolish passion, 
for these faithful, pure women would, indeed, not give him 
any hearing. So he went into the Garhapatya, one of the 
three holy fires, and from there let his eyes have their fill of the 
beloved ones. Burnt up in the glow of his passion, he resolved, 
however, in the end to die, and went into the fore^. Now 
Svaha, the daughter of the god Daksha, and in love with him, 
had already sought for an opportunity (chidra) to be with him. 
As he was thus so unhappily in love, she had now an opening 
offered her : " I who am tortured by love will take on the 
form of the seven wives of the Rishis, and give my love to the 
fire god who is blinded by their loveliness. Thus will he 
get joy, and I shall have my wish fulfilled." She took, there- 
fore, fir^ the shape of (^iva, the wife of Aiigiras, came to 
Agni and spoke : " Agni, love me, who am scorched with 
love. If thou do^ not do this, then know that I shall die. 
I am (^iva, the wife of Angiras, and am come, sent by the 
others after we have come to a resolve." Agni spoke : " How 
knoweft thou that I am tortured with love, and how do the 
others know it, all the beloved wives of the Rishis of whom 
thou ha^ spoken ? " ^iva spoke : " We have always loved 
thee, but were afraid of thee. Now that we have come to 
know thy thoughts from thy ge^ures, I have been sent to 
thee and have come hither to lie with thee. Carry out the 
wish speedily that ftands before its fulfilment. The women 
are waiting for me ; I mu^ be away, O devourer of sacrifices." 
Thereupon Agni, filled with the joy of love, lay with this 
(^iva, and the goddess, joined with him in love, caught up 
the seed with her hand. Thought she : " Whoever sees me 
here in this shape in the forest will make a false accusation 
again^ the Brahmans' wives because of the fire god. There- 
fore I will prevent that, and change myself into a Garudl.^ 
Thus I can leave the foreft at my ease." Thereupon she 

^ Garuda, mythological huge bird (roc, simurg, griffin, etc. ; cp. 
Chauvin, vii, 10—14 ; 175) ; also called Suparna. 


The Maid 

became a SuparnI, and came out of the great fore^. She saw 
the mountain (^veta, which is covered with a cane-thicket, 
and is watched over by wonderful seven-headed snakes with 
a poisonous glance, by Rakshasas and Pi(yacas, and by dread 
bands of ghofts, and filled with women Rakshasas, and many 
fore^ bea^s and birds. Thither hurried the fair one, onto 
the mountain-top, hardly to be climbed, and threw the seed 
into a golden vessel (or, a golden fire-pit). Thus she took 
on, one after the other, the shape of six of the women beloved 
by Agni, and made love with him. But she could not take on 
herself^ tlie shape of the seventh, of ArundhatI, because of 
the penitential might and obedience to her husband of this 
ideal wife. Each time she added the seed to what was already 
there, and from it there then arose in consequence a six-headed 
being, the war god Skanda. 

A tale, now, which is in many ways remarkable is that of 
Gaiiga and her son : Bhishma's birth, which is told in i, 96 ff. 
It belongs to the very numerous set of tales of a supernatural 
being from whom the favoured man or woman musT: not ask 
or seek to find out ; and the beft-known of this set of tales 
is perhaps, besides the Lohengrin saga, the tale of Amor and 
Psyche, which reaches back to Rigveda times as the myth of 
Pururavas and Urva^T. 

The king Mahabhisha has won heaven through his piety. 
One day he is in a gathering of the gods by Brahma. The 
wind blows up the garment of the river goddess Gaiiga. The 
gods quickly caft down their eyes. But Mahabhisha, without 
thinking, looks. Brahma takes this very ill of him., and utters 
the curse again^ him : " Thou wilt be born among the 
mortals, but then oncu again come into the world of heaven. 
This Gaiiga, who did take thy senses, O fool, will do thee 
something not to thy liking in the world of men, and when 
the tide of thy displeasure thereat rises high, thou wilt be set 
free from thy curse." Now the eight Vasus have just sinned 
again^ the holy Vasishtha : The wife of one of them had 
longed for Vasishtha's well-known wonder-cow, because she 
wanted to make a woman-friend she had among mankind 

^ Cf. my translation of Damodaragupta's Kuttanimatam, p. 30, 
n. 4. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

free of sickness and ever young through the milk of 
this divine beaft. Egged on by her husband, the hen- 
pecked Dyaus, the eight all took a share in carrying 
off the wonder-cow. Vasishtha uttered the curse on them 
all to be conceived in a womb, but changed the curse in such 
wise that they could be freed from it within a year, excepting 
only the adlual sinner, who had to live long on the earth. 
Now they do not wish to be born of earthly women, and beg 
Gariga to become their mother, and throw them diredlly 
after birth into the water, so that they may be speedily cleansed 
of their sin. 

Gangii consents, and appears before the king Pratlpa, who is 
given up to good works in Gatigadvara, in sense-ensnaring 
loveliness ; she seats herself without more ado on his right 
thigh. He asked her what he could do for her, and she said : 
" I want thee ; do thou love me, who love thee. For to 
repulse women in love is a thing condemned by the good." 
Pratlpa spoke : " I approach in love no Grange woman, 
nor one that is not of my ca^e." She made it clear to him 
that with her he could unite. But he said : " Now thou 
haft brought on thyself the loss of the boon thou art urging 
me to grant. And were I to do otherwise, the breaking of 
the law would bring down destruction on me. Thou ha^ 
clasped me by seating thyself on my right thigh. Know 
thou that this is the seat of children and daughters-in-law. 
For the left thigh is what the loving woman muft make use of, 
and it thou ha^ avoided. Therefore will I not make love with 
thee. Be thou my daughter-in-law, fair-hipped one ; I choose 
thee for my son." The goddess consented, but made the 
condition : " Whatever I may do, thy son mu^ never make 
prote^." The king promised her this, and the childless man 
now together with his wife carried out ascetic pradlices to get 
a son. And he, the son, then came, and when he was grown 
up, Pratlpa gave the kingdom over to him, and went into the 
fore^, having told him that a woman from heaven in love 
with him would come to him ; he was to live in love with her, 
but mu^ not ask after her origin, nor ever make que^ion, 
whatever she should do. 

Now ^antanu, the son, was, as the Old Indian kings so 


The Maid 

often were, a mighty hunter, " So he would go alone along 
the ^rand of the Gaiiga, the resort of the gho^ly bands of the 
Siddhas and Caraiias. There one day he saw a splendid woman, 
shining with beauty like another Lakshml, quite without 
blemish, with lovely teeth, divinely adorned, clad in a thin 
garment, alone, shining like a lotus-flower cup. When he 
saw her, the hair on his body bridled, and he marvelled at the 
perfeftion of her body. With his eyes the king seemed to 
drink her in, and yet his thirft was not billed. And the fair 
one, too, when she saw the brightly shining king walking 
there, could not get her fill of gazing at him, gripped by the 
spell of love. Then the king spoke to her, uttering friendly 
words to her in a soft voice : " Art thou a goddess or a Danavl, 
a wife of the Gandharvas or an Apsaras, a Yaksha woman 
or a snake fairy, or a woman belonging to the human race, 
O thou with the lovely waiil: ? I beseech thee, that art as 
a child of the gods, become my wife, thou shining one." She 
consented, but added : " Whatever I may do, be it good or 
not good, thou mu^ not hinder me, nor utter anything unkind 
to me. If thou so behave, then will I dwell with thee, O lord 
of the earth ; but if I am hindered, or anything unkind is 
uttered to me, then surely shall I leave thee." When he 
spoke yes unto her, and she had won this beft of the lords 
of earth, she found incomparable joy. And when Qantanu 
had won her, he took his joy of her, being obedient to her out 
of love ; " she muft not be que^ioned," so he thought to himself, 
and spoke nothing to her. In her virtuous ways and the 
surpassing nobleness of her form, and her hidden services ^ 
the ruler of the earth found his joy. For of a heavenly 
form was this goddess Gariga, the wanderer on the three paths, 
since she, the lovely-faced one, had taken on a glorious human 
body. And dutifully obedient to her husband lived the wife 
of ^antanu, the lion king, granted his wish by fate, whose 

^ Upacara, service with an erotic meaning is not seldom found in 
the MBh. (cp. the waiting-maid's expression : " I mu^ firil wait on 
a gentleman"). See, for inftance, i, 98.7, 106.25; iii, 295.21 ; xii, 
325.35. So, too, (pi^up., V, 27, and elsewhere. Possible, but perhaps 
less likely, is : In her virtuous ways, and the surprising nobleness of 
her form. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

splendour was like that of the king of the gods. With her 
love-firing skill in the joyous union, and in tender loye,^ 
which held the senses fettered by amorous wiles and dances, she 
so delighted the king that he found the utmoft delight. So 
wrapped was the king in the pleasures of love, and so carried 
away was he by the surpassing gifts of the glorious woman, 
that he did not mark how many years, seasons, and months 
were going by. The prince of men, thus partaking with her 
of the joys of love to his heart's content, begat with her eight 
god-like sons. And each son she threw after birth into the 
water, sank him in the Gariga ^ream, as she spoke : " I give 
thee joy." Now this the king ^antanu did not like, but the 
lord of the earth said nothing to her, for he was afraid le^ 
she should forsake him. Then when the eighth son was born, 
the king, tortured with sorrow and wishing to save his son, 
said to her, while she laughed a little : " Do not kill him ! 
Who art thou and whose daughter ? Why do^ thou wrong 
thy sons ? Thou child-murderess, thou haft laid on thyself 
a very great and heavily-reprobated sin." The woman 
spoke : " Thou yearner after offspring, I am not killing thy 
sons, thou be^ of them granted sons. But my ^ay with thee 
is at an end according to the covenant we made.^ I am 
Gaiiga, Jahnu's daughter, who am served by the bands of the 
great Rishis, and I have dwelt with thee that a thing may be 
brought about which muft be carried through by gods." 

She now tells him how it all came about that only he could 
have been the father of the Vasus, and only she their mother, 
reveals to him that through this begetting he has won the 
everlafting world of heaven, and entrufts him with the only 
son left him. As to this son she tells him of the words of 
the Muni Vasishtha, that he will be filled with virtue, a knower 
of all the sciences, and, for love of his father, without any love 
for woman all his life long. Then she leaves the sorrow- 
ing king.^ 

^ Or : through joyous union, love, and charm. 

- Or : condition laid down. 

^ Cp. Chauvin, vi, 181-82, and all the cycle, huge beyond v^^ords, 
of the swan maiden tales, whose voluminous literature would take 
us too far to point out here. 


The Maid 

It need not astonish us then, if a young widow, who is 
moreover a snake fairy, sets about it very earne^ly when she is 
smitten by love's fire. Arjuna has taken on himself a vow of 
charity for twelve years, and wanders through various lands. 
Then he comes to Garigadvara, and there bathes in the holy 
^ream. Ju^ as he is about to come out he is seized hold of by 
UlupT, the daughter of Kauravya, the king of the snakes, 
and finds himself set in the magnificent palace of her father 
under the waters. Laughing, he asks her who she may be, 
and why she has done this violence. She tells him about 
herself, and goes on : " At once when I saw thee immersing thy- 
self to bathe in the ^ream, O tiger among men, I was utterly 
beside myself with love. Grant me content now, who am 
devoured with passion for thee, and given up to thee only, 
by giving thyself to me, O blameless one." Arjuna spoke : 
" This twelve years' chaftity has been laid on me by the king 
of the law (Yudhishthira) ; I am not my own lord. I would 
fain do thee the service of love, on the one hand, thou water- 
wanderer, but on the other, I have never yet uttered an 
untruth. How may it now be that I shall not be guilty of 
any untruth, and yet this fortune shall come to thee ? And 
do thou so a6l, O snake fairy, that my virtue may not be hurt." 
Ulupl said she knew full well that he was pledged to ftridle^ 
charity, and why, but then puts it to him : " The digressed 
must be saved, O great-eyed one. If thou rescuesT: me, then 
thy virtue will not be harmed. And if, indeed, in this there 
be any slight over^epping of duty, yet thou wilt win virtuous 
merit by giving me life, O Arjuna. Love me, who love, 
O son of Pritha ; of this the good approve. If thou doeft 
not so, then be assured that I shall die ; carry out the greater 
of all duties by granting me life.^ I have come now to thee 

^ Into such ftraits of conscience the man is very often driven, 
indeed, by women in love in Indian and other Eaftern tales, or those 
derived from the Eaft ; while in the Weft it is moftly the man in love 
who thus presses his lady. The Minnesingers' poetry of the Middle 
Ages has, indeed, given very ftrong expression to this reality of love's 
catechism (see the fir^ part of my book, Isoldes Gottestirteil, Berlin, 
i()i^,passim). For Arthur Schnitzler, however, the arti^ of that highly 
unpleasing world from which is wafted to our noftrils a breath of 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

for shelter, O be^ among men. For thou do^ ever shelter 
the needy and shelterless, O son of Kuntl. I come to thee 
for shelter, and lift my voice high in my pain. I am beseeching 
thee, filled with longing love. Therefore grant me the favour. 
Thou mu^ fulfil the wish of me, who am in love, by giving 
thyself to me." Thus addressed by the daughter of the prince 
of the snake spirits, Kuntl's son did all as she said, seeing a 
reason in virtuous duty. When the loftiness-filled one had 
spent this night in the palace of the snake-spirit, he rose at 
sunrise, and came back with her to Garigadvara. Ulupl, the 
good one, left him, and went into her palace, having given 
him as a fiivour the gift of never being overcome anywhere 
in the water : " All water-spirits will be at thy call ; of that 
is no doubt " (i, 214). 

The teller here speaks min^relwise of a wonderful deed 
of one who is praised (adbhuta karman). But what is told us 
later (vi, 90.6 fir.) would seem to be far more wonderful. 
Here the fruit of this very remarkable heroic devotion to duty 
and virtue, a devotion concording, indeed, not only with 
Heracles's view in Goiter^ Helden^ iind IVielatid^ the fruit, 
a strapping son, presents itself to its father Arjuna. And 
when the scion has made known his descent, we read : " And 
the Pandava remembered it all jusl: as it had happened " 

(9I. 14).'" 

It mu^ be said that the repulse of a fair one aflame v/ith 
love is not always without its dangers, either elsewhere in the 
world or in Old India, as is shown both in other Indian works 
and in the Epic in various places, of which we shall speak later. 

decadency and lewdness, often shamelessly frivolous and always- 
weighed down with world-weariness, for Arthur Schnitzler, 
it would seem, the following was reserved : In his drama, " Das 
weite Land," Hofreiter, filled with dread, forsakes, at leaft for a time, 
his own wife, because she for the sake of such a phantasy of the brain 
and unsubstantial shadow, as is a woman's virtue, has refused her 
lover, whom she also loves, his lasT: wishes, and thereby brought about 
his death. This Hofreiter is the pattern of a Toda. Among this people 
of India, according to Rivers, he is looked en as immoral, and muil 
atone heavily in the next world for his crime, who will not give up 
his wife to another man (Hartland, Primitive Paternity, ii, 160). 


The Maid 

It is even very solemnly laid down for us in a saying (xiii, 23.75) : 
" He that comes in the way of the business of Brahmans, 
cows, and maidens, lands himself, of a truth, into hell." It 
may be that a humorous smile plays round this expressed 
opinion ; while " hell " (niraya, naraka), too, in the Epic 
not seldom means, as among ourselves, a great sorrow, a great 
mishap, digress, ruin, even wickedness, baseness, vice.^ 

^ See, for iniiance, i, 141.37; ii, 77.4; iii, 96.17; 157.23; 
179.24; iv, 19.12 f ; 18.25; V' 25.7; 29.45; vii, 196.52; ix, 
59.30; xii, 3.17, 18, 21 ; Ram., ii, 36.27. 




MEN in love have always been free and open in laying 
down rules for maidens, mo^ly, of course, only for their 
own special case, jusT: as the sun god did for Kuntl. But we 
may hold the view which prevails throughout the Epic to be 
the usual Indian one : The daughter shall live in complete 
chastity and implicit obedience towards her father, mother, 
and other kinsfolk, and await from them her husband. Mythic 
examples are, of course, always to be made use of with care, 
ju^ as are, indeed, the manners, cu^oms, and so forth in the 
legends handed down from the dim pa^. We have very 
often to do here not with " survivals " from earlier times, 
but ju^ with freely drawn figures from the eager popular 
fantasy, impatient of any bars, or even from a brooding 

On the other hand, the father then has the express and holy 
duty to find a husband for his daughter. Marriage is not only 
necessary, but it is also the sacramental birth anew of the 
woman : as the man of the higher ca^es is born a second 
time by being given the holy cord, so is she through being taken 
by the hand (Ram., v, 19.10, cp. Manu, ii, 67, and the note in 
Burnell's translation).^ In Mahabh., xiii, 24.9, we find : 
" He that doth not give his own grown-up fair daughter to 
a worthy wooer, let him be held for a Brahman-murderer." ^ 

^ The unmarried woman is asarnskrita kanya (ix, 52.12), and 
sarnskrita = the wedded woman, e.g. Yajnavalkya, i, 67 ; Vishnu, 
xxii, 33 ; asarnskrita the unwedded maiden Vishnu, xxiv, 41. See, 
too. Jolly, " Rechtl. Stelkmgd. Frauen bei d. alten Indern," Siizungsber. 
d. Munchener Akad., 1876, p. 427. 

2 Cp. iii, 293.35 f. No less Wrongly do the law writings ^ress 
this duty. Each time a (ripe) unwedded maiden has her courses, her 
parents or guardians are guilty of the heinous crime of slaying the 
embryo. Vasishtha, xvii, 71 ; Baudhayana, iv, 1.12 f . ; Narada, 
xii, 25-27 ; Yajnav., i, 64. Cp. Para^ara, vii, 6. Vasishtha adds the 



The kinds of wedlock or marriage are according to the 
Mahabh. eight all told : the fir^ four or the specifically 
Brahmanic, under which the father hands over his daughter to 
the bridegroom ^ free and without any price, although in the 
Rishi form it is for two head of cattle, looked on as arhana 
(honour shown, gift of honour) only ; then there is the 
purchase or demon marriage, the love or Gandharva marriage, 
the marriage by capture (rakshasa vivaha) and the marriage 
by dealing, as we may perhaps call it, whereby the man gets 
the woman by some cunning (pai9aca vivaha). ^ These regular 
methods are found in i, 73.8 ff., and there the marriage by 
capture, but not marriage by purchase nor the Pai^aca marriage, 
is allowed to the warrior ; but on the other hand the Vai^ya 
and the (^udra may marry by purchase. So, too, the eight 
kinds are seen in the passage in i, 102, shortly to be dealt with. 
Many observations, however, are noteworthy enough to be 

further condition : " if the girl has wooers," but Baudh. says : even if 
she has none ; the latter, indeed, like Vasishtha, xvii, 67, is inclined 
to grant a three years' grace, but then adds, like Manu's teaching, 
the threat ju^ given. Paragara, vii, 5, says : If a girl has reached her 
twelfth year, and has not been given away, then her forefathers in the 
other world are for ever drinking the blood she sheds every month. 
He has also the well-known verse wherein a girl of ten years becomes 
a maid (kanya), and with this a physiologically perfeft woman (vii, 4 ; 
cp. jolly's note in SBE [= Sacred Books of the Eaft], xxxiii, p. 170). 
Vishnu, xxiv, 41, lays down : If a maid in her father's house sees her 
monthly courses without having been dedicated (that is, married), she 
is to be looked on as a Vrishali (more or less = Pariah) ; he that takes 
her for himself without more ado lays no guilt on himself. Cp. Manu, 
ix, 93. She has thereby loft the right to marriage, and woe to him that 
yet takes her. Paragara, vii, 7. Cp. Vasishtha, xvii, 69-71 ; my transl. 
of Kautilya, 356.6 ff. 

^ Great is the reward, too, in the other world, for such pious 
liberalit>% Cp., for instance, MBh., iii, 186.15; xiii, 57.25,32. 
According to Narada, xii, 41, in the Rishi method the father besides 
the two head of cattle (gomithuna) also gets a garment (vaftra), anyhow 
for the bride. 

2 This is, as is well known, the orthodox lift. Cp. transl. Kautilya, 
242.20 ff. Apastamba, ii, 5, 11, 17 ff., and Vasishtha, i, 28 ff. have, 
however, only six forms, Prajapatya or Kaya, and Paigaca being 
left out. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

profitably quoted. So xiii, 44 : Yudhishthira spoke : " The 
root of all duties and virtues, of oflFspring and family, of the 
serving of the dead, of gods, and of gue^s — tell me what it is, 
O grandfather. For of all ordinances, O lord of the earth, 
this is held to be the moft worthy of mark : To whom should 
the daughter be given ? " Bhlshma spoke : " The good 
muft give the daughter to a wooer gifted with excellencies, 
having informed themselves of his charafter and way of life, 
his knowledge, his origin, and his business. That is the 
Brahma form of good Brahmans. Let him that gives her 
away of his free will ^ win thus as son-in-law a man fitted to 
wed his daughter. This is the unswerving duty of the learned 
(that is, of the Brahmans) and of warriors. If a man without 
regard to his own wish (the father's, etc.) shall have to give 
the maiden to him whom she loves and who loves her, then the 
Veda-learned call this the Gandharva kind." If a man buys 
the maiden for goods in one of the many ways and means, 
enticing her kinsfolk, then the wise call that the demon form. 
If a man by force robs the weeping girl from her home, slaying, 

^ Avahya goes along with avaha. According to Bohtlingk and 
Monier-Williams, this word is not found in the meaning of marriage. 
But it is so found in xiii, 63.33 (wrongly underwood by B.) ; and 
Karna says in v, 141, 14; avaha9 ca vivahag ca saha sutair maya 
kritah. It is the bringing hither, the marrying hither or acquisitive 
marriage (of the child-in-law), opposed to the marrying away or giving 
in marriage (of one's own child). Anukulatah might also mean : in 
fitting wise. The passage is a hard one. I have translated in agreement 
with the reft of the flandpoint of the Smriti. By far the smoothest 
arrangement would be to refer the relative clause to avahyam. Then : 
" With one that in fitting wise (or : of free bent) may give a gift of 
honour." According to the scholia^, it is true, whom I cannot follow 
in this, what is referred to is the buying of a bridegroom, and the 
prajapatya vivaha is here meant. But elsewhere he is otherwise 

- Here probably " give " = afterwards consent. Bearing in mind 
(;loka 36, one is tempted, indeed, to translate : " Without regard 
to his own wish, a man shall give his daughter to him who loves her, 
and whom she loves. This is called the Gandharva form by those 
learned in the Veda." The wording also would be mo^ naturally so 
translated, but there are other objeftions. 



and cutting ofF the heads of the weeping (kindred), that is 
known as the Rakshasa form. Of five now three are lawful, 
and two unlawful : the Pai^aca and the demon custom 
mu^ never be practised. The Brahmanic form, the warrior 
form, and the Gandharva form are lawful : either separately 
or mingled they are to be followed, of that is no doubt.^ Three 
kinds of wives are for the Brahman, two for the warrior, the 
Vai^ya shall only wed in his own ca^e. The children of 
these (wives from different cables) are on an equality with one 
another (all take the father's ca^e). Let the Brahmanic 
wife be the fir^ (of a Brahman), the Kshattriya of a Kshattriya. 
For pleasure a ^udra is also allowed. But other people say 
no. The begetting of offspring with a ^udra wife is not 
a thing praised by the good. But if a Brahman begets with a 
^udra wife, then he mu^ atone for it.^ Let the man of 

^ Here we have, in ^loka 3—53, the beftowal form (brahma), 
which includes in itself all the fir^ four of the orthodox scheme, 
which are essentially quite the same as it ; in 9I, 5b-6 the 
Gandharva form ; in 9I. 7 the Asura form (purchase marriage) ; 
in 9I. 8 the Rakshasa form (capture marriage). The Pai9aca form is 
not described. In 9I. 10 kshattra = rakshasa. The account given 
by Hopkins, JAOS, xiii, p. 359, I hold to be wrong. Feer, Le 
manage par achat dans Vlnde aryenne, I do not know. Moreover, 
Hopkins himself (p. 36) takes rakshasa = kshattra. And Jolly's 
remark in Recht und Sitte, p. 49, that in our passage the expression is 
used " in another way " seems to reft on a misunderftanding. 

2 While, for example, Manu, iii, 13 ff., holds that for this crime 
there is no atonement. According to Mark.-Pur. (Markandeyapurana), 
cxiii, 30 fF., the man muft firft take a wife from his own cafte, then 
there is no objeftion to his marrying one from a lower cafte ; if he 
brings home firft one of a lower cafte, then he sinks down into this ; 
and Agnipurana, cl, io-ii,ftates that the children of mixed marriages 
take in general the mother's cafte. There are no reftriftions, in what 
the Vishnu, xvi, 2, lays down, as to the offspring of wives of a lower 
cafte. The law books, indeed, do not speak well of the man's marrying 
below him. But Manu, ii, 238, allows the pious man an otherwise 
excellent wife from a lowly house (dushkula). Vasishtha, xiii, 51—3, 
gives more particular information. The male offspring of the cafteless 
man is careless, but not the female offspring. The woman, indeed, 
when she weds goes out of her father's family into the husband's (this 
is confirmed by the other law books). A man, therefore, may marry 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

thirty years wed a ten-year-old wife, a nagnika (one that has 
not yet men^ruated), or let the man of twenty-one get one 
seven years old. A man shall never take for himself a woman 
that has no brother or no father, for she is under the duty whereby 
her sons mu^ be held to be the sons of her father. Three years 
shall a maiden wait after the firft coming of her menses, but 
when the fourth has come, let her get a husband herself,^ 
She will then never have lo^ offspring and the pleasures of 
love. But if she do otherwise, then she offends againft Prajapati. 
One that on the mother's side is not akin through the offering 
to the dead, and not on the father's side through having the 
same clan (gotra) — such a wife let a man seek ; this is the law 
Manu proclaimed. 

Yudhishthira spoke : " If one man has given the price, 
and another has said : ' I will give it ,' a third demands her with 
violence, a fourth shows money, and a fifth has taken hold of 
her hand, whose wife is she then, O grandfather ? Be thou 
for us, who would know the truth, the eye." Bhishma spoke : 
" Whatever be the deed of a human being, it is seen to serve 
him in life when it is furnished with holy sayings (mantra), 
when it is discussed with them. False words, however, are a 
crime leading to the loss of ca^e. Even a wife, a husband,^ 
a high prie^, a ma^er, and the scholar's teacher are deserving 
of punishment, if they utter an untruth." 

' No,' other people say. But Manu does not praise a living 
together with reludlance. What is untrue is without glory and 
tightness, a harm done to virtue.^ In no man is only perverse- 
such a girl, but without a dowry. Cp. Yajnav., iii, 261. See further 
Jolly, Recht und Sitte, p. 6 1 f. 

^ So, too, Manu, ix, 90 ff. ; Vasishtha, xvii, 67 f. ; Baudhayana, 
iv, 1. 1 4. Others, however, give only three men^ruations as the period. 
So Gautama, xviii, 20 ; Vishnu, xxiv, 40. The laft-named precept 
is perhaps of later date. Cp. Narada, xii, 24 ; Yajnav., i, 64. 

2 Or perhaps rather : Even the lord of the wife. 

3 Dharmakopana, cp. Pali (e.g. Milindapanho, p. 266, bhutagama- 
vikopana ; my Da^ak., p. 90, line 4 of the text from the bottom) ; and 
vidhikopana, v, 29.29 ; prakopayati dharmam, xii, 64.3, here seems = 
entangle, diftort ; rajye ^hitim akopayan, xii, 132.5 ; vidhiprakopa, 
v, 29.29 ; raiigaprakopa (infringement of the laws holding for the 
^age), i, 1 3 5 .4. Cp. also xii, 1 3 5 .4. 



ness to be found. ^ How should it come to be there, whether 
the kinsfolk give the daughter free according to the law, or 
whether she is bought ? ^ When the kinsfolk have given 
their consent, holy words and sacrifices may be used, then these 
words have an effeft ; but none whatever in the case of a girl 
who is not (anyhow afterwards) given. Yet the mutual contraft 
concluded with holy words by the wife and the husband is 
declared to be weightier than that concluded by kinsfolk.^ 
The husband, according to the law's teaching,^ acquires the 
wife given by the gods. So he ^ brings to nought the words of 

^ Nothing is altogether good, and nothing altogether bad, is the 
teachingof Jat., No. 126 ; MBh., xii, 15.50. 

2 The meaning of the whole oracularly dark ftatement seems to 
be somewhat as follows : In marriage all should be agreed on with 
openness and friendliness. But ju^ as no one thing in itself represents 
the absolutely right, so, too, none of the various kinds of marriage is 
utterly to be rejedled. Bhishma probably has in his mind the marriage 
by capture, which as a warrior and famous maiden-robber, he com- 
mended ; and as he moreover altogether disapproved of purchase 
marriage, not to speak at all of marriage by dealing or fraud (paigaca), 
so in the end the better translation is : " In the one (that is, capture 
marriage) there is no absolute wrongdoing. How, then, does it rightly 
arise (why does one accept it), even when a man robs a woman whom, 
however, her kinsfolk offer, and who is bought ? " Perhaps tadaikena 
is to be read inftead of tada kena : " There is absolutely no wrong- 
doing to be found in this one thing : when the kinsfolk give her away 
free according to the law ; through one thing (the other) it (the wrong- 
doing) then arises : when she is bought." But then the way of expression 
would be a somewhat twiAed one. Or laftly yarn prayacchanti might 
refer to what follows. But then Bhishma would hardly be answering 
Yudhishthira's queftion. As to the queftion what is to be done when 
a man has taken a girl for himself without her kinsfolk's consent, as in 
capture marriage (and Gandharva marriage), we seem to be given an 
answer in what follows. 

^ That is to say, the important persons are man and wife ; and what 
they agree together under holy forms ^ands good ; whereby, therefore, 
capture and Gandharva marriage are shown as founded on law even 
without taking the kinsfolk into account. Cp. Biihler's note to Manu, 
iii, 32, in his translation. 

* Or : at the beheft of the law (of the god of ju^ice) } 

^ Probably the husband, simply by acquiring and holding the woman. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

gods and men as untrue." Yudhishthira spoke : " If the maiden 
has already acquired (brought in) the purchase price, and a 
better wooer now comes, in whom virtue, love, and advantage 
are found in full ^rength, can we in that case speak of false- 
hood ? ^ Here, where from both sides there is the threat of error, 
he that has to ad yet would fain do what isbeft. . . ." Bhishma 
spoke : " The father in no wise accepted it with the thought : 
' The price is what decides.' For the good never give their 
daughter because they are thinking of the price, but, it is from 
a wooer endowed with other advantages that the kinsfolk 
demand the price when a man gives her away of his own free 
choice, decking her out and saying : ' Take her home.' ^ 
And when he thus gives her away, it is no purchase price, no 
sale. If he has accepted it, he mu^ then give it (to his 
daughter), that is a law never to be broken. If a man has 
earlier thus spoken : ' I will give thee my daughter,' then 
those are no words (that does not hold) ; if anyone has said 
this, or if he has said : ' No,' or : ' Of a truth ' (none of that 
holds). Therefore they woo one another (they woo on both 
sides) up to the taking by the hand. The wooer of the maiden 
is be^owed by the Maruts, so we have heard. To none 
that is not according to her wishes shall a daughter be given. 
That is demanded by the Rishis. That is the root of offspring, 
which has its root in love. This is what I hold.^ Pondering 

^ Or : " is a falsehood in that case something blameworthy," the 
faft, that is, of giving the girl to the second } Less hkely : " Need 
one in that case be telling a lie," that is, be disowning the earlier agree- 
ment ? Perhaps the translation is to be taken according to Narada, 
xii, 30 : " Shall a man then declare (the agreement) as invalid (anrita) 
or not .? " Is vacyam to be changed to vakyam ? 

^ Hardly perhaps : "saying: 'Take her home, after having decked 
her out ' " ; where, therefore, the purchase price would consift of 
ornaments for the bride, or money for these. 

^ In Divyavadana, ed. Cowell and Neil, p. i, we find that three 
things muft combine together that there may be children : mata- 
pitarau raktau samnipatitau (the loving begetters) ; 2. mata kalya ; 
3. ritumati gandharvapratyupa^hita. Cp. Windisch, Buddhas Geburt, 
etc., 17 f. ; L. v. Schroeder, Wurz-eht d. Sage von: heil. Gral, 84 f. 
On the view that in marriage one muft only follow the urge of the 
heart see my note Dandin's Daq:akumaracaritam, p. 301 f , and with it 



now, know that in this twofold business ^ there lie many 
mistakes, for here it is that we have to do with living together. 
Hear how the purchase price never decided the matter. I brought 
away two maidens for Vicitravlrya, having therein overcome 
all the Magadhas, Ka^is and Kogalas. Of one the hand had 
already been taken, the othej had had the purchase price. 
* The girl that has been taken (already by the hand) mu^ be 
at once sent away,' said my father. ' Bring the other girl 
here.' So spoke the Kuru scion, I asked many others, since 
I doubted my father's word ; for my father's thirsT: for virtue 
and right seemed to me mightily exaggerated. ^ Thereupon, O 
king, I kept on speaking these words, for I was driving after 
the right way : ' I would fain come to know the right way to 
the truth.' When now I had uttered these words, my father 
Balhika spoke as follows : ' If ye believe that it is the purchase 
price that decides, and not the taking by the hand, tradition 
(smriti) declares : ' He that has received the purchase price, 
may take ^eps for another wedding.' ^ For the law-learned 
do not ftate that according to tradition a guiding thread is given 
by the words (the agreement in marriage affairs by word of 
mouth). Toward those who derive the decision from the 
price and not from the taking by the hand, the well-known 
expression, too, which speaks of giving the daughter, docs not 
inspire any trusl (that is, it makes them out to be wrong).'* 
Those who see in the purchase price a sale are not law-learned 

Uttararamacar., v, 17; vi, 12 = Malatimadhavam, i, 27; Kiratarj., 
xiii, 6 (cp. ix, 8) ; my Hindu Tales, p. 81, n. 2 ; p. 184, n. i ; Jataka, 
Nos. 68, 237; vol. V, p. 288, 11. 18 ff. ; MBh., xii, 194.27; 
Divyavadana, ed. Cowell and Neil, p. 654 ; Si^er Nivedita, T/ie Web 
of Lid'ian Life, p. 187 ; Chavannes, Afies du XIV. Congrh intern, des 
orientalises, 1905 (vol. 14), Cinqu.sed., p. 140; Samayamatrika, viii, 
23 ; Winternitz, WZKM, xxviii, 20 ; etc. 

^ Panayos, that is, buying and selling of the girl. The word is not 
found with this meaning in Bohtlingk. 

2 For Bhishma thought indeed that he had an equal right to the girl 
that had been taken by the hand, since lie had won her by capture 
and fighting. 

^ Lajantaram upasita. Balhika is tlie brother of Bhishma's father. 
See e.g. also v, 149.14 fF. 

* Probably less likely : it is not convincing to them. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

men.i To such as these a man shall not give his daughter, nor 
shall anyone bring home such a woman j for the wife muft 
in no wise be bought or sold. Therewith is judgment, too, 
uttered on the greedy, the evil-minded, that buy and sell 
a woman as slave (concubine)." 2 On this matter folk asked 
Satyavant : " The payer of the purchase price for a girl, which 
latter has had the purchase price, has died, and suppose she had 
another man taking her hand ; we are then in doubt as to 
what is right. Decide thou this for us . . ." Satyavant 
spoke : " If so ye wish, then give her away. In this a man 
need harbour no hesitation. A man so does, even when (the 
payer of the purchase price) ^ill lives. If he is dead, then there 
is no doubt whatever. The maiden may in such a case unite 
herself to her brother-in-law, or once again, following his 
guidance only, pradlise mortification in her longing after the 
taking by the hand (after adlual marriage). According to 
some they (the brothers-in-law) lie with her at once, according 
to others gradually (?). Those that speak thus on this matter 
know the decision in this present que^ion. The same is true 
where, before the taking by the hand, an interval goes by, filled 
with all the happiness-bringing usages and with holy sayings.^ 
A fraud, however, is a crime leading to the loss of the ca^e. 
The deciding and culminating point in the holy words of the 
hand-taking is in the seventh ^ep (at the wedding ceremony). 
She is the wife of him to whom she is given with water.* Thus 
is (the daughter) to be given away, they declare on this matter ; 

^ Were it a real, legal sale, then it would unconditionally bind. 

^ K. has the less striking reading dasivat " like a slave ". 

^ Then, too, nothing definitive has happened. The smoother 
but rather lame rendering would be : " The time leading up to the 
taking by the hand is that in which all happiness-bringing usages and 
holy sayings are put in practice." 

* When beftowing an objeft on anyone water is poured on his 
hands. See, e.g. MBh., iii, 193.36 ; K.,iv, 78.37; Apa^.,ii, 4, 9.8 ; 
Jataka, ii, p. 371 ; Raghuv., v, 59 ; Vetalap. (ed. Vidyasagara), p. 1 14 
(Kathas.Tar.,93) ; Kathas., ii3,towards theend. The obj eft is given 
with the left hand, with the right the water is poured out (Ahgutt.-Nik., 
iv, p. 210 ; Chavannes, Cinq cents contes et apologues, etc., iii, pp. 367, 
383, 388), Hence he that gets the gift is called ardrapani or klinna- 



they know the decision. A pleasing, obedient ^ wife, given 
away by her brother before the holy fire, her shall the twice- 
born one wed, walking round the holy fire." ^ 

In the next chapter we read among other things : " I do 
not see that in the following case any ground is given through 
the law of the daughter's son : the son of daughters sold belongs 
to his father. But those born of the marriage by purchase are 
envious, given up to unrighteousness, takers of other men's 

^ Or after the Bomb, text : " equal in birth," which is also very 
good indeed. K. reads anuva^am. 

2 The law literature shows very many correspondencies with the 
teaching here set forth. Yajfiavalkya, i, 6 5, indeed, gives us likewise the 
well-known maxim : " Once only is the maid given away," but goes 
on to say that one, however, who has been already given away can be 
married away once again, if a better wooer than the earlier one comes ; 
and in Narada, xii, 30, we find in almoft literal agreement with MBh., 
xiii, 44.28 : Kanyayam dattagulkayam jyayarn? ced vara avrajet 
Dharmarthakamasarnyukto, vakyarn tatranritam bhavet, " If the price 
has been given for a maid and a better wooer comes, in whom virtue, 
advantage, and love are to be found, then in this case the words are 
to be invahd." And in 28-29 he says that the rule : " Once it is that 
the maid is given away " is applicable only in the case of the firft 
five kinds of marriage, that is, of the Brahma, the Prajapati, the Rishi, 
the Deva and the Gandharva marriages ; in the case of the other three 
all depends on the wooers' quahties. That means, then, for mo^ 
cases a nullification of that holy maxim. If a maiden's bridegroom 
has died before the wedding has been carried out, then according 
to Manu, ix, 97 (cp. 69, 70) she is to be given to his brother ; according 
to Vasishtha, xvii, 74, Baudhayana, iv, 1.16, even when she has been 
solemnly given in marriage, she is to be again married. Vasishtha, 
xvii, 72, says the same. In Mahanirvanatantra, xi, 67, it comes as an 
order of ^iva to marry away such a maiden again. Narada, xii, 24, 
lays it down : " If a wooer accepts a maid, and journeys thereupon 
into another land, then shall she let three menftruations go by, and 
then choose another bridegroom." The basic rule, indeed, that is 
followed is : Woman is the field, man the giver of the seed. Only he 
that has the seed shall have the field, too (Narada, xii, 1 9). But neither 
the dead, nor the absent man can sow. Cp. my Kautilya, 254.3 fi". ; 
addit. 254.3-17. But cp., for in^ance, Dubois-Beauchamp, Hindu 
Manners and CuHoms, 3rd edit., p. 40, on the later cuftom, wholly 
opposed to this. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

goods, filled with malice, of evil life. Here those with the 
knowledge of olden times bring up the following verses sung 
by Yama, they, the wise in the law, they, who are bound to the 
law books,^ the bridges of virtue and rightfulness. He that 
seeks to earn money through selling his own son, or that for the 
sake of his life gives away his daughter for a price, such a blind 
one will feed on sweat, wine, and excrement in the dreadful 
hell called Kala, the deeped of the seven." Some call the 
yoke of cattle in the Rishi form a purchase price ; that is quite 
a mi^ake. Whether it were small or big there would be a 
sale therewith. Even if some have had a cu^om, it is not thereby 
a law for ever. We can see in the world, indeed, the practices 
of otliers too : those that carnally enjoy a maiden who is 
forced, such doers of evil will lie in thick darkness.^ Indeed, 

^ Or referring to " verses " : " which are set (written down) in the 
law books." With the following cp. Manu, iii, 5 1 fF. 

2 This, of course, does not refer to capture marriage, as the 
scholia^ holds, but to rape. That things muft not be done which even 
gods and holy men have on their reckoning is several times Pressed, 
as elsewhere, in the MBh. So xii, 291. 17-18, 294.7. In xii, 262, 
we are given a splendid exposition : The way of life of the good (of 
the well-known penitents, etc.) has quite confused the moral ideas ; 
this " way of life " (acara) and the books praising it are rubbish washed 
up together from everywhere ; a man who has some importance in 
the world is praised by conscienceless poets greedy for fame, and 
everything about him is set up as an example, and so on. [N.B. — A 
washed up chip of wood or whisp of ^raw of this kind, to use the 
language of our text, is to be seen, too, in 9I. 24 and 25. They muft 
be caft away here ; then we get a sensible and clear text. ^1. 24 is a 
doublet to 9I. 30 ; 9I. 25 muft be put before 31.] A pretty lift of the 
lewd doings of the gods and holy men is to be found in Da^akumara- 
caritam, p. 209 of my translation. Moreover in their case such 
" devilish tricks " do not bring about any lessening of virtue (ib., 
pp. 209-10). For the holy man is ftiU unspotted, even when he is in the 
service of luft and brandy. Mark.-Pur., xvii, 17 fF. Cp. MBh., xii, 
141.67. The poisons of the Samsara are firft and foremoft wine and 
women, and can only be driven out by wine and women (that is, the 
devils by Beelzebub). See Mahanirvanatantra, transl. by Arthur 
Avalon, p. cxvi and chap, viii, 269. But with both passages cp. what 
follows, as also M. N. Dutt in the introd. to his translation, pp. xxi- 
xxviii. And this is also a myftical doflrine for the initiated, and has 



anoiner human being mu^ not be sold, how much less so 
one's own children ! From such a possession rooted in wrong 
no good can come (or : nothing right can spring). They that 
know the times of old bring forward this saying of Pracetasa 
(according to Nil. of Daksha) : If the kinsfolk of a maiden 
take nothing for themselves, then it is no sale. This is an 
"honouring" (a gift of honour arhana) of a girl, and a thing that 
shows very good will. And all of it without leaving anything 
over mu^ be given up to the girl. Women muft be honoured 
and adorned by father and brother, father-in-law and brother- 
in-law, if they wish to have much happiness. True it is that, 
if the wife is not pleased, then the husband, too, is not rejoiced 
by her ; and if the husband has no joy, then no offspring grows." 
In the 47th chapter it is fir^ set forth : the Brahman may 
take his wives only out of the three higher ca^es ; if from love, 
greed, or baseness he weds a (^udra, then he mu^ make atone- 
ment. In sharing an inheritance the son of his Brahmanic 
wife fir^ gets a tenth of the whole e^ate, that is to say, the mo^ 
valuable things, such as carts, bulls, etc. The reft is split up 
into ten shares. Of these the son of the Brahman woman gets 
four, that of the Kshattriya three, the son of the Vaiyya two, 
that of the (^udra wife one, although under the law nothing 
whatever falls to him ; for while the Brahman's sons by the 
wives from the three higher ca^es are Brahmans, he is not one. 
He is given a little (alpam) or the tenth part because charity 
is the highe^ virtue, but only if the father grants it to him. 
Three thousand at the moft is to be given to the wife as her 
share in the e^ate, and of this property given her by the husband 
she shall have the usufrudl, which is meet and fitting. The 
share in the inheritance given by the husband is for the usufrudl 

nothing to do with the sensuality of the many. We often find, too, 
the assertion that the Brahman who knows the Veda, and perhaps 
also practises this or that good work, is pure, even though he were 
the moft dreadful of sinners (e.g. Vasishtha, xxvi, 19 ; xxvii, 1-9 ; 
Manu, xi, 262). By deeds that are in any, even the slighted relation 
with a particular god, above all Qiva and Vishnu, even the mo^ 
shameless offender is wholly cleansed from any ftain. But this is not 
the place to go further into this. Cp. J. J. Meyer, Isoldes Gottesurieii, 
notes 41 and 43. 

D 65 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

of the wives, of this property of the husband nothing shall in any 
wise be taken from the wife. But whatever property has been 
given the Brahmanic wife by her father, that her daughter is to 
have, for she is as the son.^ Yudhishthira wonders at the property 
being shared so unequally among the sons of the wives from the 
three higher caftes, for they are yet all Brahmans. Bhishma 
enlightens him : " Wife " is uttered in the world with one 
name only, but within the name thus uttered there is a very 
great di^inftion. If a man has fir^ of all made three (not 
Brahmanic) women his wives, and then gets a Brahman woman, 
then she is the eldeft, she is the honourable one, the head-wife. 
The bathing and adorning of the husband, the tooth-cleaning, 
and the anointing, the sacrifices to gods and forbears, and all 
else that is done in the house on works of the holy law, all this 
no other may ever care for, so long as she is there, but the 
Brahman woman mu^ attend to it for the Brahman man. Food 
and drink, wreath, clothing, and ornaments mu^ be handed to 
the husband by the Brahman woman, for she is the mo^ 
important. The Kshattriya shall ^and altogether beneath her, 
the wise man goes on, as the Vai^ya again under the Kshattriya ; 
for the warrior ca^e, as being the royal one, has a very high and 
weighty position for the welfare of the world. If a Kshattriya 
man, although he is really allowed only two kinds of wives, has 
three, then the sons inherit thus : the son of the Kshattriya 
woman gets four-eighths and the father's war booty, the Vai9ya's 

^ The law literature on this point has already been pointed out. 
According to this thewife's property (ftrldhana) is what was given herby 
her father, mother, brother, or other kindred, what she received before 
the wedding-fire, or in the wedding procession, or from her husband, 
whether out of love or as pain-money on his taking a second wife, or 
what she has received otherwise since marriage, and then her purchase 
price (gulka). This la^ came to be in Old India, as, for example,among 
the old Germans, a gift to the bride. See Narada, xiii, 8 ; Vishnu, 
xvii, i8 fF. ; Manu, ix, 194 f. ; Yajnavalkya, ii, 143 fF. ; Agnipurana, 
pp. 742, 925, etc. Cp.espec. Meyer, Uber das Wesend. altind. Rechts- 
ichr., etc., 76-81; 186; Kautilya (transl.), 243.17-245.19 and 
addits.; Benoy Kumar Sarkar, Polit. Instit. and Theories of the Hindus, 
28 ff. Worthy of note is Mahanirvanatantra, xii, 2 5, according to which, 
over and above this, all she has acquired herself is the wife's property 
(cp. xii, in), 



son three, the ^udra's son one, if the father so grants. Of the 
property of the Vaiq:ya man the Vai9ya woman's son receives 
four-fifths, the ^udra woman's one, but again only if the father 
gives it him. As the Qudra man can only take a ^udra, his sons 
naturally all inherit quite equally.^ 

This favouring of the higher ca^es is, of course, easy to under- 
hand; and juftaseasy to underhand is it that in the Mahabharata 
also, purchase marriage, not to speak at all of marriage by stealing, 
is treated with such contempt, although not only elsewhere in 
the world, but in India, too, it is an institution from olden times. 
The whole catechism of the ordinary Brahman had only the 
one word : " Give 1 " and the Mahabharata itself shows us in 
its Brahmanic parts one ever recurring variation on this one 
tone ; from the soft, wheedling words of the glib, sly rascal 
(which, however, are those lea^ often heard) up to the shrill, 
crazy screaming of the dirt-begrimed, howling dervish, with 
fantastically matted shaggy hair, this all-conquering word of 
barefaced beggardom runs right through the mighty Epic. 
How then should the Brahmans not have seen the highest 
good, and what at leaSt for them was the only dignified course, 
in those forms of marriage which imply a giving away of the 

1 The law books are usually less hard than the Epic againft the 
Qudra woman's son. True, Manu, ix, 155, too, lays it down he is to 
have what the father finds good to give him ; but otherwise, so far as 
I can see, this reftriftion is not found. Gautama, xxviii, 39, allows the 
(^iidra son, even of an otherwise sonless Brahman, only the means of 
subsidence (vrittimula); Vasishtha, xvii, 48-50, pays no heed to him 
at all, and so on. According to Baudhayana, ii, 2, 3.10 (= ii, 2.10) 
and Yajnavalkya, ii, 125, of the Brahman's sons that of the Brahman 
woman inherits jfour-tenths, that of the Kshattriya three-tenths, that 
of the Vaigya two-tenths, that of the (^udra one-tenth ; the sons of the 
Kshattriya man get three-sixths or two-sixths or one-sixth, those of the 
Vai^ya man two-thirds or one-third. So, too, Brihaspati, xxv, 27 £f. 
and Vishnu, xviii, i ff. ; only Vishnu says nothing whatever about the 
sons of the Vai^ya man. Baudhayana and Manu,ix, i 53 ff-, deem only 
a Brahman's sons worthy of a detailed treatment. Brihaspati, xxv, 32, 
lays down that the ^udra woman's son can have one of the ten 
shares only where land is not in que^ion. Cp.Biihler's note to Manu,ix, 
153 ; Kautilya (transl.), 259.1-19 and addit. 259.27-28. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

bride without, or essentially without, any price being paid ! ^ 
The warrior, on the other hand, found his pride in quite another 
diredlion. " Take ! " was his shibboleth — fir^ of all : " Take 
for thyself by main force ! Thou art the ^rong one and to the 
strong belongs the earth." But then it gratifies the pride of the 
mighty man if he can say to others : " There, take it ! " And 
always we are hearing in the Mahabharata : The Kshattriya 
can only be^ow, never can he let anything be beftowed on 
him ; and often the contempt for the Brahman, ever begging 
and accepting, finds expression. In the tale of Devayanl and 
C^armishtha we have already seen an example of this. The 
warrior, therefore, praised marriage by capture, and with it 
the Gandharva marriage, in which latter, likewise, leave was 
asked of no one on earth, but the more or less reludlant maiden 
was carried off as booty. Not only Krishna, the conscienceless 
fellow, who rose to the lofty dignity of highe^ god from being 

^ Cp. MBh., iii, I 86.1 5. Here, too, as is usual in the world, sheer 
selfishness, therefore, is the tap-root of progress and of a loftier ethic. 
But in saying this we would not deny that there was also a ^ream 
to be found among the Brahmans, rising from nobler depths ; for it 
is the drivings of this very prieftly ca^e that India has to thank, in 
spite of much that is so unpleasing, for an infinity of good and lovely 
things in the domain not only of the intelleftual but also of the ethical. 
Prieftly hands have done dreadful wrongs to the Epic poetry ; but on 
the other hand, very many splendid treasures, for insTiance, of the Indian 
mind in narrative literature have been smothered by the pious anointing 
oil of the Buddhi^s and Jains, or at leaft diverted, and thus, at any 
rate, preserved. Hertel in particular has pointed this out. On 
the new and the loftier in the world of philosophy, reHgion, and ethics 
the prieftly class, however, has never and nowhere on earth looked 
with friendly eyes ; and the purer ethic in particular has always at 
firft a hard fight with the religion in power, the upholder of the old 
ways. It is full of meaning to find that the founder both of Buddhism 
and of Jainism belonged to the warrior nobility. It would flill be left, 
then, to show how far the Indian prieftly class in its ethical views, too, 
followed its own impulse and not the pressure brought to bear on 
it by other sedions of the population, and probably by isolated Brahmans. 
Indeed in the world it is always individuals at fir^ that have risen as 
reformers againft their times, and it is quite likely that the insurgent 
transformers came, too, from the prie^hood. 



an obscure new-comer, is set before us as a bold woman- 
snatcher (v, 48.74 j 158.75". ; cp. iii, 12.31, 115 f.),^ and 
not only the Arjuna so wrongly praised to the skies by later 
revisers of the Kuru saga, but also the truly noble Bhishma. 
Among his heroic deeds we often find the abdu<fl:ion of maidens 
(e.g. in vi, 13.6 ; xii, 46.13), and when he is dead, his mother 
Gariga sings his praises for this, too (xiii, 168.26, 27). Twice 
the Mahabharata tells the tale of how he carried off the daughter 
of the king of Ka?i for his half-brother Vicitravlrya (i, 102 ; 
V, 173). In the fir^ and very vivid passage we read : " When 
now Bhishma, wise^ of the wise, saw that his brother had 
reached manhood's years, he set his thoughts on finding him a 
wife. Then Bhishma heard how the three daughters of the 
king of Kagi (like the fairies of heaven they were) were all 
holding their choice of a husband. Thereupon this beft of the 
chariot-fighters, the overcomer of his foes, the mighty one, 
with the approval of his mother drove with one chariot to 
Varanasl. There Bhishma, Qantanu's son, now saw gathered 
together the kings that had come from all sides, and these 
maidens. But when the names of all the kings were called 
out, and the surpassingly glorious maidens saw the lonely, old 
Bhishma, they all, as though gripped by an unre^, ran away 
from him, with the thought : ' He is an old man.' ' On 
what ground has the Bharata ^eer shamelessly come hither, 
old, with a surpassingly virtuous soul, wearing wrinkles and 
white hair ? What will he say, who ftands there among the 
people a breaker of his vow ? For false is the renown on earth 
of Bhishma as one thirling after charity.' So spoke the low- 
souled among the princes, and laughed. When now Bhishma, 
the mighty one, heard the words of the Kshattriyas, he was fired 
with anger, himself he made these maidens' choice, and spoke 
with voice of thunder to the wardens of the earth, as he, 
Bhishma, that strikes in all dire61:ions, lifted the maidens onto 
his chariot : ' The be^owal of daughters on valiant men, 
when these have themselves been summoned, has been handed 

^ In the twenty-sixth chap, of the 5th book of the Vishnupur. and 
elsewhere the song is sung of how Krishna carried off Rukmini on the 
eve of her solemn wedding with Qi9upala. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

down in tradition by the wise. While they deck out their 
daughters to the be^ of their power, and even pay money 
besides, others offer them for a yoke of cattle. Others win 
consent for a fixed sum of money, and others again through force. 
Others approach men who are unaware of anything, and others 
wed on their own terms. ^ Others acquire a wife by following 
the Rishi way. Then, as the eighth kind, know ye that one 
chosen out by the poets.^ The self choice by the maiden 
(svayarnvara) again is praised and pradlised by the nobility. 
The carrying away by main force of the maiden, however, is 
declared by the law-learned to be the be^ thing. ^ These 
maidens here, ye herders of the earth, I mean to take away 
hence by force. Make ready with all your ^rength, whether 
now it is for vidlory or for defeat. Here ^and I, ye herders 
of the earth, resolved to fight.' When he of the heroic 
soul, the Kuru scion had thus spoken to the wardens of the 
earth and the king of Ka9i, and had lifted all the maidens 
onto his chariot and taken leave of the gathering, he drove 
swiftly away with these maidens. Then sprang up in rage all 
those princes, feeling their arms and biting their lips. Great 
was the confusion among them, as in tearing ha^e they took 
off their ornaments, and girded on their armour. Like the 
meeting together of ^ars was this gathering of all the orna- 
ments and the armour from every side,^ owing to the orna- 
ments being ^rewn about here and there with the armour.^ 

^ Wishing to have the maiden in marriage (prarthita) — in the Praja- 
patya form. Cp. Agnipur., 1 54.10b ; Vishnu's law-book, xxiv, 22. 

2 The Gandharva marriage, anyhow, not, as the comm. has it, 
the Rakshasa form. It would be possible, of course, to find the 
Gandharva form already in anumanya, as K. indeed does. Then the 
meaning would be : " Know now that this is the eighth kind of taking 
home chosen by the wise." Kavi as a matter of fadt in the MBh. quite 
usually means " the wise man, seer, mafter ". 

^ Or : " They declare the marriage by capture to be the oldeft." 

* The armour, too, was ornamented with gold and precious ilones. 
When Yudhishthira's armour was shot to pieces with arrows in the 
fight by night, we read : " It fell down in tatters like a swarm of ^ars 
from the sky " (vii, 165.39 ; cp. viii, 49.42 f.). 

^ Can go with what follows ; then we should have a kind of loc. 
absol. : " While the ornaments . . . were being brewed about, 



Their brows were drawn with anger and indignation, and their 
eyes reddened ; thus did these heroes dimb into their chariots, 
made ready by their drivers, shining, harnessed to noble fteeds, 
and now set out, brandishing their weapons, after the Kuru 
scion as he drove off. Then between them and him, between 
the one and the many, there was fought a raging, fear-bringing 
fight. . . . But when the beft of all arm-bearers had overcome 
them in the fight, he went on his way, down to the Bharatas, 
the Bharata he. Bhishma, ^antanu's son, was attacked 
from behind by the (Jalva king, the great chariot-fighter, 
he the man of unfathomed mind, as the warden of the 
herd, the ^ronge^ of the ^rong, who is after the female, 
thrums another elephant in the back with his two tusks. ^ 
Yearning for the woman, the prince shouted to Bhishma : 
" Stop ! Stop ! " he the ^alva king, the ftrong-armed, 
goaded by rage. Then this tiger among men, the tormentor 
of the foemen's armies, roused by his words, blazing up 
with anger like a smokeless fire, his Wretched bow in hand 
and his forehead in furrows, faithfully followed the warrior 
cu^om and turned his chariot round to meet the (Jalva, without 
fear or confusion, he the great chariot-fighter. When all 
these kings saw he had turned about, they came up as onlookers 
to the meeting between Bhishma and the (^alva. The two 
men endowed with ^rength and valour rushed on one another 
like two ^rong bellowing bulls fighting for the cow. Then 
the ^alva king, the be^ of men, overwhelmed Bhishma, 
^antanu's son, with quick flying arrows in hundreds of 
thousands. When now these princes saw Bhishma at firft 
brought into evil plight by ^alva they were a^onished and 
shouted : " Bravo, bravo ! " . . . When now Bhishma, 
^antanu's son, the taker of foemen's strongholds, heard the 
words of the Kshattriyas, wrathfuUy he said : " Stay, ^ay ! " 
And grimly he spoke to his charioteer : " Drive to where that 

these heroes, whose brows . . . were drawn with anger, and whose 
eyes were reddened," etc. A like inftrum. absol. is repeatedly found 
in the Epic. Cp. for example vii, 196.12 ; xii, 264.61-63 ; Ram., ii, 
III. 12. 

^ As we shall learn later, the Qalva king was the secret betrothed 
of the eldeft of the princesses 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

king is ! I will kill him as the prince of birds kills a snake." 
Warding off with arrows the arrows of the (^alva king, Bhishma, 
the Kuru scion, brought down his driver, Bhishma the tiger 
among the rulers of earth. With Indra's arrow magic he slew 
his splendid horses. For the maiden's sake, Bhishma, ^antanu's 
offspring, then let the be^ of men go off alive. Then ^alva 
went to his city, and the prince thereafter ruled his empire with 
justice. And the kings that were there to witness the svayarn- 
vara, they too went back again to their kingdoms, they the 
takers of foemen's ^rongholds. When Bhishma, the beft of 
^rikers in the fray, had thus won the maidens, he went off to 
Ha^inapura, where the king, the Kuru offspring, Vicitravlrya 
the ju^, ruled this earth, like his father, the Kuru offspring 
^antanu, the be^ among men. The son of Gariga, in a short 
time, went through fore^s and rivers, mountains and trees of 
the mo^ various kinds (the man of boundless valour in the 
fray, having worked havoc among the foe, himself unscathed), 
and he brought away the daughters of the king of Ka^i, he 
the virtuous one, as though they were his daughters-in-law, 
as though they were his younger sixers. As though with his 
own daughters, the ^rong-armed one drove into the Kuru 
land, and brought them thither, seeking to do his brother's 
pleasure. These maidens endowed with every excellence, won 
by a hero's prowess, the brother Bhishma handed over to his 
younger brother Vicitravlrya. He, learned in the law, having 
thus carried out in harmony with the law a deed beyond human 
powers, went on to marry away his brother Vicitravlrya." 

In the second account (v, 173 ; cp. 176.44 ff.) given by 
Bhishma himself, he declares that it was because the maidens 
were vlrya^ulka (whose price is heroic valour) that he robbed 
them (9I. 14) ; and in it he is always calling out : " Bhishma, 
son of ^antanu, is robbing the maidens." Duryodhana does the 
same as Bhishma. He drives in a gold-decked chariot together 
with Karna and other heroes into the royal city of the Kalirigas, 
where the princess is to hold her ceremonial choice of a husband, 
and a great and splendid band of kings has come together. 
Accompanied by her nurse and by eunuchs,^ the young beauty 

1 These, of course, show that the tale in at leaft its present form 
is of a late date. It is found, too, in the 12th Book. 



walks across the platform, as the kings' names are told her, but 
passes by Duryodhana. This hurts his angry pride ; he falls 
on her, lifts her onto his chariot, and drives off with her. 
The other wooers follow, but in the hot fight they all have to 
yield before Karna's incomparable heroism and ^rength, and 
Duryodhana bears off his booty (xii, 4). Bhishma's rape of the 
girls had evil results of which we shall hear later, and more- 
over kindled an undying enmity between him and the family 
of the abdudled maidens. But usually the maidens' kindred 
put up with the deed. We even are told, indeed, of a famous 
case where from the very ftart the girl's brother lends his help. 
Arjuna during his time of banishment and " chastity " comes 
to the Yadavas in Dvarakii, and there lives with Krishna in the 
mo^ intimate friendship. The Vrishnis and Andhakas hold 
a festival in honour of the mountain Raivata, whereat men and 
women give themselves up to all kinds of frolic and mad 
enjoyment. Then we read in i, 219.13 ff. : "While this 
wonderful dazzling fe^ival was being held, Krishna and 
Arjuna walked about together. Wandering round they saw 
there the glorious daughter of Vasudeva, the bedecked Subhadra, 
amidft her girl friends. When Arjuna saw her, at once love 
woke within him. Krishna saw that his thoughts were of her 
only. The tiger among men spoke, laughing slightly : " Is 
the heart of the fore^-dweller birred by love ? An it please 
thee, that is my si^er, sprung from the same womb as Sarana, 
O son of Pritha, Subhadra her name, my father's beloved 
daughter. If thou hait intentions, I will speak with my father." 
Arjuna said : " She is Vasudeva's daughter and Krishna's 
si^er, and lit up by loveliness ; whom would she not, indeed, 
ensnare ! All my happiness would undoubtedly be fulfilled, 
if the Vrishni maiden, this si^er of thine, were my wife. But 
what means is there to get her ? Tell me of it, O Janardana. 
Then I am ready to do anything, if it is possible for a man." 
Krishna spoke : " The Svayarnvara is the way of marriage of 
the Kshattriyas, O bull among men, but it is bound up with 
doubt and danger because of the whimfulness of woman's 
nature. The carrying away by force is also held in honour 
by the Kshattriyas. Those wise in the laws know it as the 
marriage way of heroes. Do thou, O Arjuna, take my fair 

D' 73 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

si^er by force. For who knows what she will do at the 
Svayarnvara ? " Now when Arjuna and Krishna had made 
up their minds how the thing was to be done, they sent 
messengers to let Yudhishthira, who was in Indrapra^ha, 
know of everything. And when the long-armed one had learnt, 
the son of Pandu allowed it. Being now authorized in the 
matter of this union, and with Krishna's leave, Arjuna, the 
Bharata bull, went forth according to Krishna's plan, when 
he knew the maiden to be on the mountain Raivataka. In a 
chariot whose parts were of gold, which was equipped in full 
order, harnessed to (^aibya and Sugrlva (horses of Krishna), 
wreathed with a multitude of little bells, and fitted with all 
kinds of weapons, which sounded, too, as the voice of the cloud, 
was like unto flaming fire, and de^royed the joy of foes — in this 
chariot the bull among men drove forth under pretext of 
hunting, armed, clad in armour, wearing his sword, with the 
leather protedtor for the left arm, and the bowman's finger-cap. 
Subhadra was now coming back to Dvaraka, having offered 
worship to the mountain prince Raivataka and all the gods, 
and had the Brahmans to utter wishes for blessings, and having 
wandered to the right round the mountain. Arjuna rushed 
down on her, and lifted her into his chariot, he that was tortured 
by love's arrow thus did unto Subhadra, lovely in every limb. 
Then the tiger among men drove with this brightly smiling 
one on the chariot built of gold to his city. But when the 
soldiery saw Subhadra being carried off, they all ran shouting 
in the diredion of the city of Dvaravatl. When they had all 
come to the assembly hall Sudharma,^ they told the warden of 
the hall of all this heroic deed of Arjuna. So soon as the warden 
of the hall had heard it from them, he beat the drum that 
calls to arms, the loud-sounding drum, mounted in gold. 
Aroused by this din, the Bhojas, Vrishnis,and Andhakas, leaving 
their food and drink, now came rushing up from every side. 
A very ^ormy meeting is now held ; chariots, arms, and 
equipment are put into order ; Baladeva, the drunken elder 

^ Or perhaps better : When they had swiftly reached the assembly 
hall. Abhitas swift, quick is often found in the MBh., although the 
diftionaries give this meaning as unsupported (iii, 3.67; 175.16; 
240.1; 266.7; 276.4; vii, 113.66; etc.). 



brother of Krishna, in a fury curses the rascally Arjuna, who 
thus repays their hospitality, fir^ eating the food, and then 
breaking the vessel, and threatens by himself alone to make 
the earth Kaurava-less. But Krishna makes a speech " in the 
service of virtue and profit " : " It is not contempt that Arjuna 
has shown towards our family, there is no doubt as to that. He 
holds you Satvatas never to be greedy for gain ; and the son 
of Pandu believes that one should not venture on the Svayarn- 
vara. Who would care, too, like a brute to approve the giving 
away of a daughter ! ^ And the sale, too, of a child — what 
human being on earth would choose to carry it out ! These 
miilakes have been seen by Kuntl's son, that is what I hold. 
That is why the son of Pandu has carried away the maiden 
according to law and wont. On the one hand the union is a 
fitting one, on the other this so excelling son of Pritha has 
actually accomplished the rape of the glorious Subhadra. Who 
would not choose, indeed, to have Arjuna, the son of Kunti- 
bhoja's daughter, born in the line of Bharata and the famous 
Qantanu ! And I see none that could overcome the son of 
Pritha by his might in battle but ^iva. . . . Ha^en with the 
moft friendly words to Arjuna, and thus move him to come 
back. This is my mo^ true opinion. Were Pritha's son to 
overcome you, and go back by force to his city, then your 
renown would come to nought at one blow. But if there is 
friendly appeasing, there is no talk of defeat." Thus is Arjuna 
brought back and wedded to Subhadra ^ (cp. also viii, 37.34). 

^ Or : " the giving away like a head of cattle," that is, her being 
given away like a head of cattle. 

2 K. after ^loka 25 of the Bomb. ed. (which here shows some 
difference) has inserted almoft 150 flokas, showing a really crazy 
di^ortion. On Krishna's advice Arjuna disguises himself as a Yati, 
is honoured by Baladeva and his comrades as a holy man, brought 
by Krishna into the apartments of his si^er Subhadra, and given into 
her care, the cunning fellow spinning a tale to her : " For in olden 
times the Yati who were of the calling of begging monks dwelt in the 
apartments of the Da^arhas' maidens. The maidens that were in the 
harem gave them soft and hard foods, according to the time, and v/ere 
untiring in it." Arjuna's excellencies have already been praised before 
Subhadra by Krishna and others, and she has long quite fallen in love 
with the hero through hearsay. Arjuna on his side sighs and groans 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

In vii, 10.33, 55 ^^^°> ^^^ carrying off of women is hailed 
as a great deed of two heroes in Yudhishthira's army (cp. 9I. 
60, and xii, 45.13). The dying Bhishma praises in vi, 122.17 
Karna's heroism, when carrying off maidens. When the 
angry (^i^upala in ii, 41.22, 23 declares that it was an ill deed 
of Bhishma to have carried off Amba, who already loved 
another, that means little. Moreover he, the rightly thinking 
one, let her go again at once, when he came to know of her 
inclination. So the abdudion of women is seen, too, in the 
comparison : " Su9arman took the king of the Matsyas as 

like a true lover that has ever the objeft of his as yet unfulfilled laft 
wishes before him. At length she grasps the faft that the Yati is 
Arjuna, and draws him into a jewing talk ; he discloses himself, and 
they avow their mutual love. From shame Subhadra now falls quite 
ill, and after the manner of later literature the love-sickness of the 
maiden is described. The whole people with her father at their head 
go off to a thirty-four days' fe^ival on an island. Arjuna makes use 
of the opportunity (which has been purposely brought about for him 
by Krishna and the kinsfolk), and asks of Subhadra the Gandharva 
union. Of it he says that it is brought about from passion and the 
yearning for sons, and ensures an obedient and fruitful wife ; as opposed 
to the other four kinds of marriage this fifth one is entered upon by 
the two lovers without holy ceremony and without friends. Next 
night he would fain accomplish this marriage with her. But she only 
weeps. Then Arjuna at a loss calls up through his thoughts his father 
Indra, and the whole hoft of the heavenly and the holy ones (indeed 
even the Yadus come with Vasudeva at their head), and they wed him 
to the princess. Krishna comes, offers him his chariot, urges him 
to go to Khandavapra^ha, and then discreetly vanishes away likewise 
to the island. Arjuna bids Subhadra to have the chariot harnessed 
under pretext of a holy journey, and to bring it thither. She herself then 
serves him as a very skilful driver, and finds a great joy when an army 
opposes her beloved one, and of course is overcome by him. But 
the leader, who has been told of everything by Krishna, jumps from 
his chariot, embraces Arjuna, and the hero drives away with his 
blessing and good wishes. Then follows gloka 3, i and 2 of the 220th 
chapter of the Bomb. ed. being omitted : Rathena kancanangena, 
together with 4 and 5 ; then a verse to the effed that Arjuna with an 
army and Subhadra goes off in the direftion of his city. Verse 9 of 
the Bomb. ed. comes next, and then the reft essentially the same as 
this text (i, 239 ff. in K.). 



prisoner alive ; lifting him up by force onto his chariot, as 
the lover does a maid (yuvati), he drove off with swift ^eeds " 
(iv, 33-8-9).^ However, the carrying off of a bride is often 
rather an elopement (e.g. MBh., iii, 224.1-4). 

But to carry off the wedded wife of a man, which not only 
often among savages and barbarians,^ but, as is well known, 
also, for in^ance, among our Germanic forefathers, was looked 
on as a glorious deed, is a thing which is very Wrongly con- 
demned ; and xii, 35.25 lays down an atonement for this 

^ It is true that marriage by capture is more than once represented 
as wrong, and according to Vasishtha, xvii, 73, and Baudh., iv, 1.15, 
a girl that has been carried off, but not wedded to the accompaniment 
of the holy song texts, can be given away again as a virgin. But 
Vasishtha, i, 34, brings forward this very form as that of the Kshattriyas 
(kshattra), and Baudh., i, ri, 20.12 holds that it and purchase marriage 
correspond with the laws or cu^oms of the warrior nobility ; so also 
Manu, iii, 24 and 26. Mark.-Pur. ftates in cxxxiii, 27 ff. that it is 
ftill better for the warrior than the Gandharva marriage, and in cxxii ff. 
Prince Avikshita carries off many princesses at their Svayarnvara, 
because they do not choose him out ; his heroic mother praises him for 
it, when he has been taken prisoner in the fight thus brought about, 
and fires him on to go to war. And there are other such cases. It 
has often been ftated that the very name Rakshasa marriage points to the 
Arj'ans having found this form, as also the Asura or purchase marriage, 
already among the primitive population, and called it thus after them 
(e.g. J. Lippert, Kulturgesch. d. Menschheit, 1887, Bd. ii, p. 95 ; 
Anthropos, iv, pp. 7 ff., especially 10 ; vii, 102). It would be easy to 
see how, corresponding to these names, those may have been invented 
for the other kinds of marriage. But probably the Aryan settlers 
did not have to be introduced by the aborigines to such ways of 
marriage ; and I think the terminology arose rather from the 
" Brahmanic " kind, it being interpreted as " Brahma marriage ". 
Both marriage by capture and marriage by purchase are, indeed, Indo- 
Germanic. ^&^t.%.Y&\§t,lndogermanen,ioz^—lo'i. 

2 Of the American Indians, for inftance, we often are told that the 
Wronger man simply takes his wife away from the weaker, juft as the 
men do in the knightly age of Europe ; and among the pre-Islamic 
Arabs it was looked on as highly praiseworthy to take for oneself 
the wife of the beaten foe (see e.g. Anthropos, v, pp.983 ff. ; Welhausen, 
Getting. Nachr. 1893, p. 435). To the conqueror, indeed, is the 
booty. See too 5 Moses, 2 1 . i o ff. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

crime. Even from the robber it is expefted that he shall keep 
from dealing women, as also from intercourse with the wives 
of others (xii, 133.17) ; cp. what the pious robber in 135.13, 14 
demands from his men.^ In the li^ of Ci^upala's sins it is also 
remarked that he has ilolen a man's wife, also, however, that 
he has carried off a girl, though, indeed, not for marriage 

(ii, 45.10 f.).^' 

The Svayarnvara, which has been spoken of in the tales we 
have juft given, is one of the splendours of the Indian Epic, 
not only of older times, but also of later times, and is also often 
found in the prose tales. It is perhaps generally known from 
the song of Nala and Damayantl. It was assuredly never a 
universal cu^om, but was confined to daughters of Kshattriyas, 
especially royal princesses. Therefore, at lea^ in the view of the 
warrior nobility, only this nobility had the right to such 

In Mahabh., i, 122, several kings desire Kunti, her that is 
adorned with the highe^ womanly perfeftions. Her father 
holds a Svayarnvara for her. When she sees the glorious 
Pandu among the kings, she is at once fired with love, shyly 
hangs the garland on his shoulder and the wedding is held 

^ In Anguttaranikaya, iv, p. 339, we read that among tlie eight 
qualities that kept a " great " thief or a professional robber on a bigger 
scale from a speedy fall, and made it possible for him to carry on for a 
long time, there was this one : " He does not kill a woman, he forces 
or deflowers no maid." 

2 Brihaspati, xxii, 18, enjoins that he who ^eals a married woman 
shall be burned on a red-hot gridiron with a ^raw fire. 

^ Hopkins holds that this splendid knightly Svayarnvara of the Epic 
is not a survival from earlier times, but a later growth, and he is probably 
quite right. He di^inguishes, then, two kinds : the older primidve 
self-choice, and the later splendid form (JAOS, xiii, 168, 169, 357, 
360). The faireft Svayarnvara in the Epic, Savitri's, is on very simple 
lines, and only at it is the maiden quite free in choosing her husband. 
As we know, Savitri drives in her chariot through the land and thus 
makes an inspeftion, a proceeding that by no means fits into the frame- 
work of the usual or court tales of the Svayarnvara. In the house of 
King Mandhatar it is, at leaft according to his words, the cu^om 
for the daughters themselves to choose their husband in .freedom. 
Wilson's Vishnupurana, iii, 270. 



without further hindrance. The same thing exaftly happens 
in Damayantl's case, although here there is some slight banter- 
ing by the gods.^ But generally things do not go on so smoothly, 
a thing of which the literary Epic of later times has likewise 
made use. So Krishna overcomes the angry rivals, and 
triumphantly carries o£F the daughter of the king of the 

From more than one point of view the self-choice by 
Draupadi is intere^ing (i, 184 ff.). It belongs to that probably 
older variety where there is no que^ion of the girl's making a 
choice, but the decision is reached through a trial of warrior 
skill. 2 

^ Things would seem to go ju^ as peacefully with Devika, who 
chooses Yudhishthira, and with Vijaya, who chooses Sahadeva, while 
Bhimasena gets Balamdhara as virya^ulka (i, 95.76 ff.). But here 
we have only a short account. This comparison is inftru6i:ive : " As 
at a Svayarnvara they (the warriors) rained blows on one another in 
the turmoil of the fight " (vi, 93.42). Cp. Markandeyapur., cxxii ff. ; 
cxxxiii, 8 ff. 

2 It is a fight or a conte^ that often gives the decision between 
rivals for a girl among primitive peoples (Weilermarck, 159-163 ; 
McLennan, Primitive Marriage, 181). The winning of a bride 
through skill with the bow, which is often found in India, we find 
reported also of the American Indians (Finck, Primitive Love, pp. 57-58) 
as also the widespread bow that can only be Wretched by the ftrongeft 
man (Boas, Chinook Texts, p. 80). On the other hand in the Shahnameh 
the choosing of a husband by Katajun, who hands Gushtasp 
a rose-wreath, and so makes him her husband, reminds us Wrongly 
of the typical Indian scenes. So, too, for inftance, the Buddhi^ic 
tale in Schiefner, BuIL d. Petersburger Ak., Bd. xxiii, col. 23 ff., is quite 
after this ^le of tale. There we find : " Thereupon the king made 
proclamation in various lands and cities that his daughter was going 
to hold a ceremony for choosing a husband, and had that city cleansed 
of rubbish, ftones,and potsherds, sprinkled with sandal-water, and made 
fragrant with sweet perfumes, awnings, banners, and flags set up, 
many silken hangings hung with flowers of many kinds, like a grove 
of the gods, and the joyous proclamation made : ' Hear ye, O honour- 
able city and country -dwellers, and the throngs of people come from 
various parts ! Forasmuch as the King's daughter is minded to-morrow 
herself to make her choice of a husband, do ye gather together as is 
meet and fitting.' Next morning the king's daughter, wearing many 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Pandu's sons, who with their mother have escaped from the 
burning of the house of resin, and have to wander about the 
world unknown, go disguised as Brahmans, to witness Draupadi 
making her choice of a husband. On the way they meet with 
a great band of Brahmans, and are cheerfully hailed by them : 
" Come at once with us into the land of the Pancalas, to Dru- 
pada's palace ; a great Svayamvara with vaft pomp is going to 
be held there. We set out as one united band of travellers, and 
are going thither. For it will be a wondrous splendid, and very 
great fe^ival there. The daughter of Yajnasena, of the great- 
souled Drupada, is she who came forth from the mid^ of the 
sacrificial altar, she with the lotus-leaf eyes, worthy to be seen, 
with faultless limbs, very gentle and understanding, the sifter 
of Dhrishtadyumna, the foe of the Dronas, and shining with 
power, who was born from the brightly glowing fire, armoured, 
sword-girt, with bow and arrow, long-armed, like unto fire. 
His sifter is she, the slender, faultlessly-limbed Draupadi, 
from whom is wafted a kro^a away a scent like that of the blue 
lotus. We go to behold Yajilasena's daughter, awaiting with 
longing the Svayamvara, and to see this divine high feftival. 
There will come thither kings and kings' sons, rich in sacrifices, 
beftowing many gifts, zealous in the holy ftudy, pure and noble- 
hearted and pious, young and handsome, journeying from 
various places, and great chariot-fighters and princes skilled in 

kinds of ornaments, ringed round by many maidens, came into a 
grove decked with flowers by the god thereof, surpassing fair through 
the great gift of happiness, while in the middle of the city many 
thousand people had gathered together, (she came) into the gathering 
to choose herself a husband. Kshemahkara (the blind son of a 
king, going about as a beggar) also sat at another place, playing the 
lute. As men ^and in reciprocal relation according to their deeds, 
and through the great power of the cause the power of the effect 
is aimed at, so the king's daughter, when her mind was touched by 
the notes of the lute, clung faft to Kshemaiikara's lute as he played, 
and saying : ' This is my man,' she threw the flower wreath over 
him." The same tale is found in Chavannes, Cinq cents contes et 
apologues, ii, pp. 389 IF., see especially pp. 393 S. Dozens of tales, 
indeed, especially Jain, at a later time describe such events. Cp. 
also Basset, Contes et Legendes Arabes, Revue des trad. popuL, xiv, 
p. 118. 



arms. These rulers of men will, that they may win the vidlory, 
give many presents there, treasures, cows, hard and soft food 
of every kind. All this we are going to receive, to see the 
Svayarnvara, take our share in the fe^ival, and then go off 
again whither we desire. Mummers, vaitalikas, sutas, magadhas,^ 
dancers, and ^rong wrestlers will come there from all the 
quarters of the world. When ye high-souled ones have thus 
sated your curiosity,^ looked on the fe^ival, and received the 
gifts, then ye can come back again with us. And if Krishna 
(that is, Draupadr) sees you all landing there so handsome 
and with godlike Mature, then she may by the working of 
chance choose one of you as bridegroom. This brother of 
thine is splendid, worthy to behold, ^rong-armed ; if he is 

^ All three are bards and singers of princes' praises. The vaitalika 
calls out the hours of the day, and recites blessings ; the magadha is, 
according to the scholia^, a genealogift. In vi, 127.3, indeed, he 
remarks that the vaitalika is vamgavalikirtaka. The mo^ important is 
the suta, chariot-driver to the prince, and likewise one that knows and 
gives a mafterly rendering of old songs and traditions, especially of the 
great deeds of the ruler and his forefathers. It was from this ca^e, 
perhaps, that came the makers and carriers of that old song poetry, 
fragments of which have been ftrung together in the Epic, especially 
in the Mahabharata, but alas ! not without having been often mutilated 
thereby and diftorted. The modern bhats (and charan?) or bards, 
among the Rajputs (and Marathas), about whom Devendra Das in 
his Sketches of Hindoo Life, pp. 179 ff., gives a very good account, 
are undoubtedly their very near kindred, if not their descendants. 

These bards enjoy among the Rajputs greater consideration than 
the Brahmans (Tod, RajaUhan, i, 30; 217 ; cp. ii, 127 below. D. N. 
Das, Sketches of Hindoo Life, 179). A bhat was chief representative 
and army commander of Darjan Sal of Kotah (Tod, ii, 535). Their 
person is sacred (i, 742; ii, 182; 674 ff.). Markandeyapur., vi, 
23 ff. shows the pride of the suta, and that to kill him is looked on as 
Brahman murder. He occupies holy (landing in connection with 
the Veda ?) or Brahmanic rank (brahmarn padam 30, brahmam 
fthanam 32) ; and these expressions would hardly be called " holy 
place". Cp. further Crooke, The North-fVeflern Provinces, 205, 
224, and especially my Kautilya, index under sutas. As to the power 
the bards held through their knowledge of songs see Tod, i, p. xi ; 
672 ; ii, 697. 

2 Or perhaps : taken part in the fe^ivities (kautuhalarn kritva) ? 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

commissioned for the vidlory he will perhaps get much wealth 
thereby, and assuredly increase the measure of your joy." 
Yudhishthira spoke : " We wish to see the mo^ splendid 
enjoyment and the great fe^ival, all together with you to 
see the Svayamvara of the maiden." 

When they had come to Pancala-land, the five took lodging 
with a potter, and begged after Brahman wise. ..." The king 
of the Pancalas had had a ^out bow made ready for bringing, 
and a machine set up in the air. To this machine the prince 
had ordered the mark to be fa^ened, Drupada spoke : 
' Whoso brings this bow, and, setting the arrows on it, shoots 
through the mark, shall have my daughter.' With these 
words the king had the Svayarnvara proclaimed. At these 
tidings all the kings gathered together there, as also the high- 
souled Rishis, to witness the Svayarnvara. Also the Kurus 
with Duryodhana at their head, accompanied by Karna, 
came thither, and di^inguished Brahmans from various lands. 
Received with honour by Drupada, these bands of kings 
took their seats on the tribunals, eager to behold the Svayarnvara; 
then all the townsfolk, with a din as of the sea. To the north- 
ea^ the princes ^rode, and took their seats. North-ea^ 
of the city, on a smooth clear place shone the enclosure for the 
gathering, set around with dwellings, having a mound and 
ditch, adorned with gates and gateways, made fair around 
with a many-coloured awning, filled with the hundreds of 
musical in^ruments, made fragrant with precious aloe-wood, 
sprinkled with sandal-water, bright with wreaths and garlands, 
ringed all round by many splendid palaces that were like unto 
the peak of Kailasa, and brushed the sky ; and these palaces 
had pinnacles well updrawn, were wrapped in gold as in a net, 
adorned with floors of mosaic of precious ^ones, fitted with 
easily climbed ftairs, and furnished with magnificent seats ; 
they were covered in wreaths and garlands, and scented with 
the mo^ precious aloe-wood ; they shone like swans and like 
the moon's beam, and a yojana away they sent out a fragrant 
smell ; hundreds of unthronged doors they had, and shone 
with couches and seats ; their parts were covered with many 
kinds of metals, and they were like unto the tops of Himalaya. 
There all the fine-decked princes took up their quarters, 



in varied palaces, vying with one another .... And on moft 
exquisite tribunals the folk from the city and the country took 
their seats all round, that they might catch sight of Krishna. 
Together with the Brahmans the sons of Pandu likewise took 
their seats, gazing at the incomparable wealth of the king of the 
Pancalas. While now the assembly was being held, Draupadi, 
on a lovely day, the sixteenth, came up onto the platform, 
having bathed her limbs, and wearing a fair garment, decked 
with every kind of ornament, and bearing a golden, 
magnificently made wreath on her head. The house-prie^ of 
the Somakas, a pure Brahman, learned in mantras, ilrewed (ku9a 
grass) about, and then offered up clarified butter in the fire 
after the holy precept. Having appeased the flame god, 
and bid the Brahmans utter the blessing, he ordered all the 
musical insT:ruments around to ftop. When now a silence 
had come on them, Dhrishtadyumna, who had a voice like 
the trumpet of the clouds, took Krishna by the hand after the 
precept, went into the middle of the platform, and spoke aloud 
with a thunder-deep voice these friendly, weighty, and moft 
excellent words : ' Here are the bow, the mark, and the 
arrows. Let all the herders of the earth, here gathered, be 
pleased to hear me. Shoot with the five sharp arrows, whirling 
through the air, shoot the mark through the hole in the machine. 
Whoso accomplishes this great task, and is endowed with noble 
blood, a handsome figure, and ^rength, the wife of him will 
this my si^er Krishna become to-day. I speak no lie.' " 

Then he tells his si^er the name and birth of the princes 
in a long, dry li^^ and concludes : " These and many other 
kings of the various lands have come here for thy sake, my 
beloved, Kshattriyas that are famous on earth. These men of 
heroes' ^rength will for the sake of thee pierce the wonderful 
mark. Him that hits this mark, him O fair one, be pleased 

^ This whole chapter (i86), whose glokas are wedged right in 
among the trishtubhs, so as to confuse the meaning, is probably a 
later tameless intrusion. True, the Old Indians felt the barrenness of 
such an endless wilderness of names far less than we do, and 185.37, 
in the text as it is now, points to the following adhyaya. But this, too, 
is perhaps secondary. Anyhow, the old epic song or ballad poetry, 
too, naturally harboured good and bad. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

to-day to choose for husband." "These highly-adorned youths, 
decked with ear-rings, the princes among men vying with 
one another, who beHeved in their own skill with the bow 
and their ^rength, all sprang up, brandishing their weapons. 
Afire with pride of beauty, heroism, nobility, good repute, 
wealth, and of youth, like unto Himalaya elephants in rut, 
and dripping from the fires of rut, looking at one another in 
the druggie for fir^ place, with the fire of love running through 
their limbs — they spoke : ' Krishna is mine ! ' and rose 
swiftly from their princely seats." 

Now they climbed like foes (although they were friends) 
on to the ^age, with their burning hearts set on Draupadl. 
Gods, spirits, and Rishis came to the spectacle. " These kings, 
adorned with crown, necklets, and many bracelets, broad- 
armed, endowed with ^rength and ftout heart, these kings, 
each in his turn, bellowing with might and heroism, could 
not even in thought put the ^ring on to this fa^-set bow. 
These princes, wishful to show their heroic ^rength, were 
flung away by the backward-springing ^ark bow, although 
theirs was pradlice, skill, and method ; they sought to rise 
from the ground with all their might, and, forsaken by their 
^rength, Gripped of their crowns and necklets that were fallen 
down, and panting, they gave up. The ring of princes was 
now in torturing digress, they uttered anguished cries ; owing 
to this ^rong bow their necklets and rows of bracelets had 
slipped off, and their yearning for Krishna was gone from them. 
When Karna thus saw all the kings, he, be^ among bow- 
drawers, went there, swiftly snatched up the bow from the 
ground, raised it and ^rung it, and set the arrows on it. So 
soon as the sons of Pandu, the bow-bearers, saw the Suta 
(Karna), son of the sun, who had given a passionate promise (to 
accomplish the task), and excelled Agni, Soma, and the sun 
god, they deemed the splendid mark to be already pierced 
through and shot down onto the ground. But when Draupadl 
saw him, she spoke loud the words : ' I will choose no Suta.' 
Looking up towards the sun with an angry laugh, Karna 
let drop the springing bow." ^ 

^ The following verses of this adhyaya, except, perhaps, the laft 
one, are again a later forger's crime. K. of course did not let this 



Then at length Arjuna rose up from amidft the Brahmans 
to accompHsh the feat. To show their applause the Brahmans 
waved their skin garments, and made a mighty din. Some 
upbraided such a youth for undertaking what ^rong men 
had not been able to do, and feared that shame would thus 
fall on the whole cafte of Brahmans. Others extolled his 
heroic appearance and bearing, and declared he would do 
everything he undertook, as indeed there was absolutely'nought 
that was impossible to Brahmans, in spite of their seeming 
weakness. After several honorific ceremonies diredled to 
the arrow and some of the high gods, Arjuna grasped the bow, 
^rung it in the twinkling of an eye, took the five arrows, 
and pierced the mark. It fell onto the ground through the 
hole in the machine. A ftorm of applause was heard ; 
thousands of Brahmans waved their garments, music and bardic 
praise broke forth. " When Krishna saw the target hit, she 
gazed at Pritha's son, him the Indra-like, and went, in 
her white robe and ftring of wreaths, with a proud smile to the 
son of Kuntl. He took her, whom he had won on the ^age ; 
and amidft honours from the Brahmans he left the ^age, he 
the man of unimaginable deeds, accompanied by his wife. 
But when to him, a Brahman, the prince was about to give 
his daughter, rage welled up in the herders of the earth, as they 
looked at one another from near by. ' Putting us on one side 
and giving us no more heed than to a whisp of slraw, he chooses 
to marry Draupadi, mo^ glorious of women, to a Brahman. 
Fir^ a tree is planted here, then it is felled at the very time 
it should bear fruit. Let us slay this evil-minded one, who 
scorns us. . . . Has he then in this meeting of kings, that is 
like unto a gathering of the gods, seen no fitting prince .'' 
And the Brahmans, indeed, have no prescriptive right to be 
chosen. The Svayarnvara is for the Kshattriyas. That is a 

opportunity slip, either, to dish up ^ill more of this unappetizing fare, 
and in majorem gloriam Arjuni even describes how also Karna in vain 
tries to draw the bow and is flung away (i, 202.34 fF.). Radheya, at 
leaft, is, of course, also in B. 188.19 (K. 203.23) — a garbling, whether 
the fault lies with the Epic itself or with revisions, hostile to the Kurus, of 
the bardic songs. K. is at leaft quite consjftent in leaving out altogether 
the beautiful passage with Karna drawing the bow. 

' 8s 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

holy tradition known to all.^ Or if this maiden will have 
none of us, let her throw us into the fire, and let us go back 
to our kingdoms, ye rulers.' " 

They now close in on Drupada, with arms in their hands. 
But Arjuna and Bhima turn back and come into the lifts 
on his behalf BhIma tears up a tree, and uses it as a club, 
while Arjuna makes his bow spit out arrows and de^ruftion. 
The Brahmans wave their garments applaudingly, and their 
water-jugs, and promise Arjuna to fight by his side. But he 
only laughs and tells them to look on in comfort ; he will 
drive back all his foes. Soon a deadly fight with the bow 
blazes up between Arjuna and Karna. The latter, greatly 
wondering, at la^ asks his opponent who he may be. He 
answers : " A Brahman." And the sun's son withdraws. 
In another part of the fore^, meanwhile, Bhima and (^alya, 
the king of the Madras, engaged in a raging fight with one 
another, wre^ling and boxing, till Bhima lifts his adversary 
up in his arms and flings him to the ground, but with his 
great soul spares his life. The two hero-brothers get away 
through the throng, while the band of princes sets out on the 
way home, and the princess follows the two into the potter's 
workshop to the mother of the Pandavas, who is hovering 
amidfi: a thousand anxieties as to what has become of her sons. 

What is particularly noteworthy here is that the bride goes 

^ Hopkins makes this objedion : In the beginning the Pandavas 
disguised as Brahmans are admitted without any queftion, and objeftion 
is only made when things go in their favour. But his dedu6tion that 
therefore there is nothing of that warriors' privilege about the " self- 
choice", which deduction is based only on this case, is made too quickly, 
since anyhow the tale in que^ion in its present shape aims at a glowing 
glorification of the prieftly carte. Thus Drupada later on is anxious 
lert a Vai^ya or even a (Judra may have won his daughter. But no one 
will assert that at the Svayamvara a man from so low a carte could have 
really been ehgible. Dhrishtadyumna's proclamation that he who 
came from noble blood, was "of family" (kula), might be a wooer, 
is probably aimed at the Kshattriyas. Our tale, however, assumes that 
any kind of disguise, even that of a (Judra as a Brahman, was quite 
natural at the Svayarnvara — one of the many bits of nonsense in this 
patchwork piece of the Epic. Cp. too the singularities brought out 
in what follows. 



off at once with her chosen man (i, 188.28 ; 190.41 ff. ; 191 ; 
192 ; 193.4, 6). In the brother's lodging she is then treated 
by KuntI at once as the wife of her sons ; she shares out the 
alms they bring home, and sleeps at the foot of the Pandavas. 
The father of the bride meanwhile is trembling with deadly 
anxiety ; for he does not know whether even a Vai9ya or a 
^udra may not have won his daughter, and so he himself 
been disgraced for all time. But his son Dhrishtadyumna has 
followed the two as they secretly went off, overhears them in 
the potter's workshop, and likens how they speak only of 
battles, arms, chariots, and elephants, and so can bring joyful 
news to his waiting sire. The house prie^ is sent off to the 
brothers to learn more particulars, and then a messenger 
bidding them to the feaft. Outside before the abode of the 
Pandavas the moft splendid chariots are waiting. They all 
enter, and drive to the royal palace. KuntI goes with Draupadi 
to the womenfolk. Meanwhile the sons of Pandu are put 
to a further trial : tools and implements and things needed 
in the various callings have been brought together, but the 
heroes go by everything and ^raight on to the arms.^ La^ly 
Drupada has another conversation with Yudhishthira, and 
asks him who he is, whether he is a warrior or a Brahman, 
a Vaigya or a ^udra, and now learns they are really the sons 
of Pandu, as he has so longed for. Draupadi is again lodged 
in one house with the five brothers, juft as though she were 
already given in marriage, and after the difficulty has been 
met which is found in the planned polyandric marriage of the 
princess, she is then entrufted on each of five days one after 
the other to one of the Pandavas. 

Ju^ like this one is the trial in the Ramayana (i, 66, 67). 
Janaka, the king of Videha, possesses the wonderful bow of 
^iva, and a daughter Sita, alone in her kind, who came forth at 
the ploughing, out of the furrow under the plough ; and this 
maiden born from no mother's womb he promises as vlrya^ulka 
to the ^rong man that can lift the huge bow, and ^ring and 
draw it. Kings come in throngs and seek Sita's hand, but none 
can fulfil the condition. Filled with anger they besiege 

^ Cp. my note 3, p. xlvii of the Samayamatrika and Prabandha- 
cintamani (Tawney), p. 7. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Mithila, the royal city, but Janaka, who at the end of a year 
finds himself at the end of his resources, wins the favour of the 
gods by ascetic deeds ; they give him an army and the kings have 
to withdraw in shame. Then later the youthful Rama comes 
with his brother and the royal Rishi Vi9vamitra to Janaka, 
and asks him to have the bow brought. A hundred and fifty 
men drag up an iron cheft fitted with eight wheels, wherein 
the bow, marked out by the people with divine honours, lies. 
Rama lifts it out as though in play, brings it, and draws it, 
whereon the bow breaks in two in the middle, and with such 
a crash that the earth quakes, and all the people, excepting the 
king, the two youths, and Vi^vamitra, fall swooning on the 
ground. Then Sita is wedded to Rama. 

Even a fight, as a very primitive method, also gives the 
decision in MBh., vii, 144.9 ff- • " -^^ ^^^^ very time, at the 
Svayarnvara of the daughter of the great souled Devaka, for 
which all the Kshattriyas gathered together, at this time of a 
truth Qinl overcame all the princes, and lifted the queen 
Devaki swiftly onto his chariot for Vasudeva (to whom he then 
brought her). When the hero, Somadatta, the bull among 
men, saw Devaki on his chariot, the so mighty one could not 
bear this with calm. Through half a day the glorious, 
wonderful fight between the two la^ed, a fight with fi^s was 
fought between the two ^rong ones.^ But (^ini flung 
Somadatta violently on the ground, lifted his sword, grasped 
him by the hair, and kicked him with his foot in the midft 
of the thousands of kings watching from every side. But, 
pitying, he spoke : ' Live ! ' and set him free again." Cp. 
further iii, 12.31, 115; vii, i f. 

In face of the express declaration of the Kshattriyas that the 
Svayarnvara is their peculiar right, it sounds almo^ like a 
clumsy pretention of the prie^ly ca^e when in v, 35, we find 
this tale: "Engaged on the Svayarnvara was the maiden 
called Ke^inT, incomparable in her loveliness, yearning she was 
for a right goodly husband. Then the Daitya Virocana 
came thither, wishing to win her. Then spoke Ke^inl there 
to the Daitya prince : ' Are the Brahmans the better, or the 

^ Read : subalinoh. 



children of Diti ? ' " But Virocana spoke scornfully of gods 
and Brahmans. Yet in the end he had to bring himself to 
wash a Brahman's feet under the fair one's eyes. 

In the so-called self-choice, therefore, the maiden has either 
no freedom whatever, or else only a reftridled one. We meet 
with a less splendid, but much more beautiful form in the 
Svayarnvara of Savitrl, who wanders about looking and seeking 
until her heart picks one out. But here likewise it is done at 
her father's instigation. It is with an unusual meaning, 
therefore, that the word is made use of in Ram., i, 32. The 
king Ku^anabha has a hundred daughters. " Now in the 
bloom of youth, with the gift of beauty, fair-decked, they went 
into the park, like autumn lightning, singing, dancing, and 
playing musical instruments. They, the maidens dight with 
splendid ornaments, found the greatest joy. Then the god 
of the wind saw them, and spoke. ' I love you, do ye all 
become my wives. Leave the abode and ways of mankind, 
and ye shall then win long life. For youth is always fleeting, 
especially in mankind. When ye have reached to a youth 
beyond harming, ye will become immortal.' But they laughed 
at him, and cried : ' May the time not come, O fool, when we, 
scorning our truth-speaking father, make use of self-choice 
after our own will. He to whom our father gives us shall be 
our husband.' " Here svayarnvara = svayarngrahana, the 
independent self-willed union of the maiden with the man. 
This is one of the dreadful happenings that come about before 
the end of a world. Thus we read in Mahabh., iii, 190.36 : 
" No man any longer asks for the daughter, nor is the daughter 
given away ; they take the man for themselves, when the end 
of the world (yuganta) is drawn nigh." 

Yet this very independence of the girl is of the essence of the 
Gandharva marriage, which is also part of the orthodox sy^em. 
It is likewise only a concern of the warrior, as we have already 
seen (i, 102.16 ; xiii, 44.5 f). And for him it is even the 
be^ of the forms, as Dushyanta declares (i, 73.4)5 who, 
it is true, is in love, and bent on his purpose — to ensnare the 
maiden. Indeed, in i, 172. 19 it is called the beSt of any forms, 
although here again it is a man fired with passion that is speaking 
to his adored one, even if it is not with so great success as 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Dushyanta.^ This king's Gandharva marriage with ^akuntala, 
which is well-known especially through Kalidasa's drama, is a 
celebrated example (i, 68 ff.). 

That pattern prince Dushyanta, under whom men led a 
paradise-like life, went forth one day to hunt, " and him in his 
towering kingly splendour the wives of this hero beheld there, 
as they ^ood on the palace battlements, him that won fame 
for himself, was like the prince of the gods, de^royed his 
foes and kept off their elephants. As the band of women 
gazed on him there, they held him for the wielder of the 
thunderbolt : ' That is the tiger among men, like unto the 
Vasus for heroism in the fight. When the foemen's host 
comes under his ^rong arm, then it is all over with them,' 
With words such as these did the women in their love praise 

^ The Gandharva form is only for the warrior nobility according 
likewise to Manu, iii, 26 ; Vishnu, xxiv, 28 (and he that so gives his 
daughterawayjtherebycomesinto the blessed worlds of the Gandharvas, 
37). On the other hand Baudhayana, i, 11, 20.13, teaches that the 
Gandharva marriage is lawful for the Vai^ya and the ^udra, but accord- 
ing to " others " for all ca^es, and that because it is based on love. 
Baudh. himself, however, evidently thinks that maidens who make so 
free are not of much value after all (see 1 4 and i 5). Naradaftates without 
hesitation that this kind of marriage belongs to all cartes ahke (sad- 
harana), while he roundly rejefts capture marriage as also marriage 
by purchase and by fraud (xii, 44). Moreover the holy Kanva 
(MBh., i, 73.27) is also in agreement: "The Gandharva form is 
according to tradition the bert for the Kshattriya." If the current 
view of the ethnologies and anthropologics were really the right one — 
that marriage has grown all over the world out of " hetaerism " (and 
it has much to be said for it) — then the Indian views as to the Gand- 
harva home-bringing, that "survival from the time of promiscuity ", 
might very well be underrtood from an " inter-ethnic " rtandpoint, 
and even a speculative theory built up on the bare names : on this 
theory the Gandharvas, the owners of the woman before marriage, 
would be the symbols of the whole clan or tribal community, every 
male member of which had a right to all the women, and so on. But 
such things may be left to others. Moreover there is rtill found to-day 
among very many tribes of the primitive population of India not only 
an exceedingly loose sexual life, but also marriage according to the 
free will of the two mort concerned. So the " Gandharva marriage " 
thus thrurt itself on the Aryan settlers. 



the overlord of men, and scatter a rain of flowers on his 

A dreadful slaughter did he deal out among the bea^s of 
the wild, and hungry, thirty, and weary he came into a fore^ 
swept through by a cool wind. It was covered with a right 
pleasant sward, was far-wretched, and made musical by sur- 
passingly sweet-singing birds, and swarms of cicadas. Trees 
with mighty boughs and grateful shade filled it ; the leaves ^ 
quivered under the bees. There was no tree there but bore 
flowers and fruits, or that bridled with thorns, nor one but 
was covered with bees. The wind rocked the trees to and 
fro so that they kept on showering down a many-coloured 
rain of flowers. Up to the skies rose these foreW giants 
resounding with sweet bird-song, but their boughs bent low 
under the burden of the flowers. Bough twined lovingly 
with bough. Spirit beings wandered through the foreW, and 
the cool wind was wafted about it, sweet-smelling, carrying off 
the pollen from the flowers, and drew nigh the trees, as though 
minded to sport in love with them. And in the mids^ of this 
foreW paradise there the king saw an incomparable penitent's 
grove, like the world of the gods to behold. A splendid, 
cool, and mighty Wream clasped this settlement like a mother, 
abounding in sandbanks with loving couples of cakravaka, 
carrying flowers ^ along like foam. Wonderful as this 
whole foreW was this abode of ascetics, throughout which 
holy men were giving themselves up to good works, and where, 
as in Indra's heaven, hunger and thirW at once were lifted from 
the king, while welling joy filled his heart. He wished to 
visit the holy Kanva, the head of the foreW brethren, but found 
him not, but found a young girl in penitent's garb, who came 
to meet him, on his calling, like the embodied goddess of beauty 
and happiness. She gave him friendly welcome and showed 
him the honours of hospitality. On his asking where Kanva 
was, she answered : " My father, the holy man, has gone forth 
from the hermitage to get fruit. Wait a moment, and thou 
wilt see him." The king was filled with great wonder at 

^ Is -dalam to be read inftead of -talam in 70.6 .'' The meaning 
is essentially the same in either case 
2 Or : flowers and foam. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

her beauty, and moral excellence, and spoke : " Who art 
thou, and whose daughter, thou with the lovely hips ? Where- 
fore art thou come into the fore^ ? Whence is thy descent, 
thou that art gifted with such beauty ? At the sight of thee 
only, thou ha^ taken my heart from me. I would fain come 
to know thee ; therefore tell me, thou shining one." She 
told him she was Kanva's daughter. But the prince answered : 
" The holy man is held in honour in the world as a keeper of 
^ridle^ chastity. Even the god of virtue might fall from good 
ways, but not this man of the ^ridl vow. How then art 
thou his daughter .? " ^akuntala now told him how the 
gods had sent the Apsaras Menaka to lead that dangerous 
penitent a^ray, the king Vi^vamitra, and how she was sprung 
from this union, had been exposed by her mother, and had been 
brought up by Kanva as his own daughter. Dushyanta spoke : 
" Quite clearly thou art a prince's daughter, after what thou 
saye^, sweet one. Be my wife, thou of the lovely hips. Say, 
what can I do for thee ? Now will I bring thee a golden 
wreath, garments, ear-rings, all of gold, gleaming jewels and 
pearls from various cities, and breaft-ornaments and skins 
too. The whole kingdom shall be thine now. Be my wife, 
O shining one. Come to me through the Gandharva marriage, 
O lovely one ; for of marriages that of the Gandharvas is 
declared to be the be^, O maiden with thighs like plantain- 
^ems." Qakuntala spoke : " My father has left this hermitage 
to fetch fruit ; wait a moment, O king, then he will give 
me to thee." Dushyanta spoke : " I wish thee, O lovely- 
hipped one, thee that art without blemish, to give thyself to 
me in love. Know thou, it is for thy sake that I am at all, 
for it is on thee that my mind is bent. Only self is akin to 
self, and only self is the refuge of self. May thou thyself 
according to law and justice give me thine own self ^ Eight 

1 As times beyond number in the world's literature, so too in Indian 
literature, and especially in the MBh. over and over again is heard the 
partly painful, partly fierily energetic cry : " Each is alone." None 
belongs to anyone else, we are all but strangers to Grangers, utterly 
cut off even from the deareft and neareft ; none knows the other, the 
self belongs only to the self. Man is born alone, alone he lives, alone 
he dies, alone he ta^es the fruit of his deeds and his ways ; it is only 



forms of marriage, to speak shortly, have been handed down 
in law and cu^om ; that of Brahman, that of the gods, as 

his work that bears him company. As night is the mother of things, 
so too we come out of the darkness and go into the darkness, come forth 
out of nothingness, and go through a short being into nothingness 
(cp.Agnipurana, 1 19.13b, taken from Vishnu, xx,48) ; ju^ as little as the 
tree knows of its flowers and fruits, does man know of whence he comes 
and whither he goes. Our bodily and spiritual organism is ever 
changing ; what belongs, then, to us .? Even our body, our sense 
perceptions, thoughts and feelings are not ours, are only produfts 
of the ever-flowing matter. Thus, too, there is really no teacher or 
leader for anyone, each is his own Guru and muft go along the road to 
happiness alone. Only the self is the friend, only the self is the foe of 
man ; from others nothing comes to him. Therefore what muft be is 
to honour, to assert the self, to be quite true, never to lie either in word 
or deed. Self-culture, however, is found in self-discipline. Indeed, 
he who of his own will renounces all (and only lives in others), he 
who then really knows and feels that nothing belongs to him, to him 
everything belongs. But as opposed to this most lofty ethical teaching 
there is deduced from the saying : " Each is alone, and each is akin 
only and utterly to himself" the moft thoroughgoing egoism or 
individualism, and the teaching is always being Pressed : For the sake 
of self we mu^ give up everything, even the nearest and deareft, it 
is only to self that we owe any regard. And : He that wants greatness 
muft be cruel ; moral virtue (dharma) has been put in the way of the 
ftrong by the weak. It is perhaps worthy of note that the Buddhifts 
call this " the wisdom of the Kshattriyas " (cp. my Da^akumarac, 
p. 109). But here the thought of the Indian " Mirrors of Princes " 
may have played a very great part. See, for inftance, i, 140, especially 
140.77 (=xii, 140.50); i58.27fl'.;iii, I59.i4;2i5.27, 28;v, 33-74; 
34.64, 65 ; 37.18 ; vi, 30.5 f ; x, 1. 24 ; xi, 2.6 ; 2.13 (almoft = xii, 
174.17 and XV, 34.17); xii, 139.30; 140.5; 275.35; 288.16 ff. ; 
318.104; 320.115 if.; 321.85,86; 329.32 ff. ; xiii, 111.9 ff. ; 
XV, 34.17. Cp. my Kautilya, p. Ix. Many of these thoughts are also 
often uttered by the Buddhi^s and the Jains. So Majjh.-Nik., i, 
136 ; Mahavagga, i, 6.38 ff., etc. The Jain monk Amitagati is ready 
at hand in Subhashitasamdoha, ii, 16, with a Sanskrit model for the 
celebrated saying of Hans the Stone-breaker in Anzengruber's Kreuzei- 
schreiber : Anyajano na kimcic chaknoti kartum (" nothing can happen 
to thee"). Cp. my Dagakumarac, note I, pp. no; 2,62, and Hindu 
Tales, p. 153, where indeed the quotations could be multiplied to 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

also that of the Rishis, that of Prajapati, and that of the Asuras, 
that of the Gandharvas and that of the Rakshasas ; that of the 
Pi9acas is according to tradition the eighth. The good among 
these Manu has explained by turns. Hold it for truth that 
the four fir^ are praiseworthy among the Brahmans, and 
know, O faultless one, that six in turn are deemed lawful for 
the Kshattriya man. For kings the Rakshasa marriage, too, 
is commended, and for the Vai^ya and Qudra that of the Asuras 
is traditional. Of five three here are lav/ful, and two unlawful, 
according to the tradition. The Pi9aca marriage and the 
Asura marriage mu^ never be made. In this way it is that 
the marriage mu^ be carried out, this is the way of the law 
according to the tradition, Gandharva and Rakshasa marriages 
are lawful for the Kshattriya man, have no mi^ru^ about 
them ; he may enter upon them, whether they are among 
others or not, of that is no doubt. Be thou a wife to me, as 
loving woman to loving man, according to the Gandharva 
marriage, thou of the lovely face." Cakuntala spoke : " If 
this is the path of the law, and I myself have the power to give 
myself away, O befl of the Puru race, then hear my con- 
dition, O lord. Promise me the holy truth, ju^ as I tell it 
thee in secret : The son that is born of me mu^ be the next 
after thee, the crown prince, O great king ; this I dernand 
as a sacred thing from thee. If so it shall be, O Dushyanta, 
then let my union with thee come about." " Thus shall it 
be," said the king to her, without topping to think, " and 
I will also take thee into my city, O bright-smiling one, as 
thou doft deserve, fair-hipped one, that I swear to thee." 
After these words the royal Rishi, according to the holy precept 
(vidhivat), took by the hand her of the faultless gait, and 
lay with her. And when he had consoled her, he went away, 
and spoke over and over again : " I shall send an army in 
four parts for thee, and have thee brought by it unto my abode, 
O bright-smiling one." Having made her this promise, the 
prince went off, thinking in his mind of Kaiiva : " What will he 
do, the holy man, endowed with asceticism, when he hears of it ? " 
With these thoughts only did he come into the city. When 
he had only been gone a moment Kanva came into the penitent's 
grove. But ^akuntala from shame did not go to meet her 



father. Then the great pentitent, endowed with godlike 
knowledge, knew how it was with her, and the holy one 
joyfully spoke : " The union, O kindly one, which to-day 
thou did^ carry out with a man in secret without regard for me, 
does no harm to law and virtue. For the Gandharva marriage 
is deemed the beft for the Kshattriya man, which is made in 
secret between two lovers without holy words, as the tradition 
teaches us. Filled with righteousness, and lofty-souled is 
Dushyanta, be^ among men, to whom thou ha^ drawn nigh 
as to thy husband, the lover, O ^akuntala.^ From thee a 
noble-souled son will be born into the world, who will rule 
over this whole sea-girdled earth." She now begged the holy 
man for a blessing for her husband, which, too, was granted her. 

The Gandharva marriage was thus a right of lords, a part 
of the morality of lords, and certainly not seldom found among 
the nobility. For the Brahmanic outlook it naturally seemed 
offensive, but the crafty prie^ all over the world, and above all 
in India, has from shrewdness often kept an eye shut, and the 
thir^ for sy^ematization, as also the pious respeft for all 
tradition, brought down this part of the marriage theory, too, 
into late times, where in the narrative literature Gandharva 
weddings are extraordinarily frequent. But it is not altogether 
" free love affairs ", as has been thought, that are here to be 
generally understood by this ; for however light-heartedly 
such a union is often entered upon there, it is mostly held to be 
binding. True, exceptions are to be found, ju^ as here the old 
holy King Dushyanta looks on his adventure with the penitent- 
maiden as the fore^ tale of a fleeting hour, and as a result 
our ^ory develops a long train of effed:s. 

In spite of all the promises (^akuntala never heard another 
word from her husband ; her son came into the world, and 
from childhood's years ^ood forth as a miracle of ^rength, 
courage, and noble fierceness : tigers, elephants, and other 
dangerous bea^s he bound to trees, when he was six years 
old, be^rode them, and rode about on them. Then spoke 
the holy man : " To dwell long with kinsfolk does not befit 
women, for it de^roys the good name, seemly life, and 

^ Read yam insTiead of yas. K. 94.62 has however : abhyagacchat 
patir yas tvam bhajamanam. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

virtue." ^ And he sent away his daughter and the boy, 
accompanied by his disciples, to the king, that his, the king's 
scion, might be consecrated as crown prince, (^akuntala 
p'-esented his son to the ruler, and reminded him of the promise 
he had given her. But although the prince well remembered 
all, he said : " I do not remember. To whom then doft 
thou belong, thou shameless penitent ? I know of no union 
with thee, whether in pious duty, or in love, or in profit. Go, 
or ^ay here, as thou wilt ; whatever thou wisheft, do it." 
"Thus addressed, she of the lovely hips flood there as one put 
to shame, the wretched one, as though senseless for sorrow, 
like a motionless tree-ftump. With eyes reddened with 
emotion and indignation, with quivering lips, scorching him, 
as it were, with ^olen glances, she gazed at him sideways. 
With features drawn, and goaded on by anger, she withheld 
her fiery powers heaped up through her mortifications. Having 
pondered a moment, filled with anguish and indignation, she 
looked at her husband, and angrily spoke the words : ' Why 
speake^ thou, O great king, though thou knowe^ it, without 
scruple like any ordinary man : I do not know about it ? 
Thine heart knows here of truth and falsehood. Do thou 
speak what is fitting and good as an impartial witness ; do 
not scorn thine own self. He that forces his own self other- 
wise than it is made, what a crime has he not committed, 
he the thief robbing his own self ! ^ 

" I am alone," so thy thoughts go 
And thou in thy heart knoweft not the old Muni, 
Who in it knows the evil doing ; 
Before his face thou worked crooked falsehood. 

" None knows me," this is the illusion 
Of the man that has done evil. 
Him the God knows, enthroned above, 
And the Man, too, knows, dwelling in the heart. 

1 Cp. Markandeyapur., Ixxvii, 19. 

2 Atmapaharin is explained by Nil. in vii, 73.33 as atmanara 
anyatha praka9ayan. Cp. v, 42.37 ; vii, 17.32. 



The sun and moon, the wind, fire. 

Earth, heaven, water, Yama, and his heart also, 

Day, night, the two twilights. 

The law — they know here man's life.^ 

Yama absolves him from evil done 
Who is a joy of the witness to deeds, 
Of the mind, to which the field is known. 
And which dwells there in our breaft.^ 

But the man that is hateful to him, 

Because evil-minded he doth evil 

And busied is with ill deeds. 

Him Yama some day punishes with a burden of torment. 

He that himself scorning his own self does 
To himself what is not after the heart of the self, 
And sees not ^ the ground of adion in the sell. 
To him, too, no gods are kind. 

Do not thus scorn me, that am true to my husband, saying 
that I have come hither on my own impulse. Me thou do^ 
not honour, who am worthy of honour, who am the wife that 
drew near unto thee thyself. Why doft thou treat me with 
disdain before the assembly, like a man of low birth ? And 
I am not calling this out in the wilderness. Why do^ thou 
not hear me ? ' " 

Then from her lips comes a splendid song of praise for 
family happiness (a rendering of part of which will be given 
later), and she ends with a lament that her mother had already 
forsaken her as a child, and now her husband was repudiating 
her, and she was in the world with no kinsfolk. But the king 
upbraids her as a bad woman, sneers at her declaration that she 
is Vi(;vamitra's daughter, and jeeringly says that her evil- 
living mother, Menaka, has picked her up, the evil-living 

^ Cp, Garudapuranasaroddhara, iii, i6. 

2 Niryatayati dushkritam removes, forgives the evil deed, the sin. 
In the following gloka the literal translation is perhaps : the evil-doer 
he makes to tafle his sins, he punishes in him the evil deed (thus 
not from dushkrit). 

^ Or : " In whose self happiness does not lie." So, too. Nil. 

E 97 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

daughter, somewhere else. " All whereof thou speakeft 
is unknown to me ; I know thee not ; go thy ways, wherever 
thou choose^," Maje^ically (^akuntala speaks : 

" The fault of others thou see^ large. 
That are small as a grain of sesame ; 
Thine own, great as bilva fruits, 
Are not bared to thy seeing eye. 

Menaka is with the gods, and the gods are with Menaka. 
My descent is higher than thine, Dushyanta. Thou wandered 
along on earth, I through the air. So long as the ugly man 
does not see his own face in the glass, he believes he is hand- 
somer than others. He that has the gift of the highe^ beauty 
scorns no one. But he that utters a ^ream of immeasurably 
evil words is an outrage here on earth." Then she opposes, 
in their nature and ways, the foolish and the bad to the wise and 
the good, with a telling reference to Dushyanta with his evil 
and unwise deeds, and winds up with an inspired song, full of 
fire, on the truth that is so sorely sinned again^ by the man of 
deceit. " Better than a hundred wells is the tank, better 
than a hundred tanks the sacrifice, better than a hundred 
sacrifices the son, better than a hundred sons the truth. If 
a thousand sacrificial fteedsand the truth are put on the balance, 
then the truth outweighs even the thousand sacrificial ^eeds. 
To ^udyall the Vedas,to bathe at all the holy bathing-places, and 
the truth — these things are on an equality with one another, 
nay, the truth ^ands higher. King, truth is the highe^ 
" Brahman ", truth is the highe^ duty ; do not forsake duty, 

king, let truth be thy bosom companion. If thou, however, 
clingeft to the lie, if thou do^ not believe from thine own 
impulse, then I will go of my own self ; with one such as thou 
there is no friendly relation." Then a voice sounds from 
the sky, assuring the king that this is his son, and bidding him 
to take him to himself. Then Dushyanta declares to his 
ministers and priefts that he was not allowed to avow his son 
otherwise, else would the world have doubted the truth of his 
descent, and to (^akuntala he speaks : " Our union took place 
hidden from the world ; to cleanse thee, O queen, it was that 

1 have so delayed and te^ed thee. But what harsh things 



thou ha^ uttered to me in anger over-great, my love, they are 
forgiven thee by me because of thy tender affedlion." He 
yields her honour now as his head-wife, kisses and clasps his 
son, and dedicates him as crown prince.^ 

^ K. has spun the Qakuntala episode far out, and in part botched it 
very tablelessly. How wonderfully did the author of this poetic 
pearl of the MBh. make the innocent foreft maid answer the king 
when he iirft bids her to give herself to him ! InsTiead of this one verse, 
wholly to the point and almoft literally repeating the words spoken 
by her in another connexion, the southern botchworkputs a long speech 
on the awfulness of the holy ones and the Brahmans into the good 
child's mouth, as also moral reflexions on father, daughter, and wife 
(9I. 94.6 = Ram., i, 32.22). She is then so cunning, too, in her fear 
of what the world says, as to demand firft of all a solemn marriage 
with all the ceremonies of the law. And the love-goaded king now 
calls to his Purohita, and has himself married to her by him ! When 
Kanva comes home, Qakuntala dares not face him, but he gets her to 
tell what has happened to her, which, of course, is done here sagad- 
gadam, and he then magnificently announces that he knew it at once 
through his " godlike eye ", but consoles her, and says : 

Ritavo bahavas te vai 
gata vyarthah, ^ucismite ; 
sarthakarn sampratarn hy etan, 
na ca papma^i te, 'naghe. 

Her son Bharata shows himself even in childhood's years to be a mighty 
demon-slayer, like unto his father in Kalidasa. Then (^akuntala's 
sorrow when she leaves the hermitage is drawn in very broad and really 
beautiful lines, but not, it is to be noted, in the tone of the epic poet, 
but lyrically like Kalidasa, or even a little Wronger, although with less 
flowerlike-delicacy than in the drama ; she wants and does not want 
to go forth, while the boy urges her and Kanva gives her wise in^ruc- 
tions despite his tears. The penitents who are going with her as escort 
do not wish to go into the nagararn durjanair vritarn, particularly 
since many of the townsmen jeer at them, and go back home from 
the gates, as Kanva has bidden them. (Jakuntala amid the ecftatic 
and Indian-like descriptive admiration, called forth in the townsmen by 
her beauty and Bharata's ^urdy ftrength, proceeds alone through the 
city to the palace. Her discussion with the king is also a good deal 
longer, and not only are a lot of very good sayings added, but also 
lyric and effeftive touches. Thus in describing her origin and how she 
was exposed (Jakuntala draws a pi<3:ure of how the birds covered the 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Beside such romantic love and marriage adventures of the 
Kshattriyas the marriage by purchase, eslabhshed from olden 
times among the mass of the people, could not naturally but 
seem vulgar and low. So we already saw it described, in 
agreement with the Smriti, and it is often brought up as a 
dreadful sin. So vii, 43.37 ; 73.42 ; xiii, 93.133 ; 94-3 V 
But it was not at all confined to the misera plebs, nor is it 
^ill in India to-day. ^ In one case, however, we are expressly 

little child with their wings and then had solemnly handed it over to 
Kanva (98.70 fF., cp. 93.20-24), how he had brought her up, and the 
prince had found the blossoming maid and made her his (98.70 fF.). 
In^ead of the one voice from the sky sarvani bhutani and the devas 
also take a part. Dushyanta, so forgiving and great-souled towards 
the angry woman, here, showing great reasonableness, goes on to say : 
" The untrue or unkind words I have spoken, or the but too great evil 
I have done, my ill words, all these do thou, too, forgive me, thou great- 
eyed one. Through patience with their husband wives are granted 
the husband's faithfulness." He leads her ceremoniously into his 
harem as head-wife, and to his mother Rathantarl. 

^ When the ape in the 219th Jataka (which I have edited in my 
Kavyasamgraha, Metrische Uberseizungen aus indischen und andern 
Spracheri) comes back again to his brethren in the foreft, he tells them, 
as charafteri^ic of the topsy-turvy world of men, how wives are bought 
in it for much money. Many such in^ances could be quoted. From 
the law literature, too, it comes out more or less incidentally in many 
places that marriage by purchase was the general thing. Manu, 
for in^ance, is very hard againft purchase marriage (iii, 2 5 ; 5 1-54 ; ix, 
98-100) ; and yet in ix, 93 and viii, 366 the bride-price for the 
daughter appears as the father's natural right. Other passages are given 
by Biihler in his translation of this law-book, p. xciii. Baudhayana, i, 
II, 21. 1-3 and ii, 2.27 paints the sinfulness of such a proceeding in 
vivid colours, but grants in i, 11, 20.12 that it is lawful, at leaft for the 
Kshattriya. Narada in xii, 54, even thunders : Only the husband of the 
unbought woman is a real husband and owner ; if a price has been 
given for a woman, then the children begotten by another man 
belong to the wife ; not to the husband, but to the lover. But the 
earlier quoted passage in xii, 30, shows, however, that the " maiden 
for whom a bride-price ((julka) has been given " has the same meaning 
with him also as the " betrothed ". Indeed, Vasishtha, i, 36, has 
in^ead of Asura simply Manusha " the way of bringing home with 
mankind ". Cp. 36 and 37 and Biihler's note on it in Sacred Books 



told that shame was felt towards it in the upper classes. " Then 
Bhishma, (^antanu's son, he the thinker, bent his mind on a 
second marriage for the king Pandu, the glorious. With the 
old minivers and with Brahmans, great holy men and an army 
in four divisions he made his way to the city of the king of the 
Madras. When the leader of the Vahlkas heard he had come, 
the prince went to meet him and brought him into the city. 
When the ruler of Madra had set before him a splendid seat 
and water for the feet, as also the honorific gue^-water and 
the honey-mixture, he asked about the objedl of his coming. 
To the Madra king spoke Bhishma, the Kuru offspring : 
' Know that I have come to reque^ a maiden, O tamer of 
foes. It is said thou ha^ a surpassing sifter, Madrl, the glorious 
one. I would ask for her for Pandu. For thou art fitting 
unto us for an alliance, and we to thee. Bearing this in mind, 

prince of the Madras, accept us, as is right and seemly.' 
To Bhishma, thus speaking, made answer the warden of the 
Madras : ' For me there is no better wooer than he,^ that 

1 hold. By my forefathers, the greatest men in this family, 
something was introduced ; now whether it be good or bad, 
I cannot set myself above it. It is known to all and also to 
thee, of that is no doubt. It is indeed, not becoming to say : 
Lord, give.^ That is the wont and cu^om of our family, 
and this is our main guiding-thread. Therefore do I speak unto 

of the Eafl, xiv, p. 7. According to Manavagrihyas., i, 7-8, there are 
only two kinds of marriage : brahma and ^aulka. As a direft contra^ 
to the Brahmanic view, which in the Mahanirvanatantra, xi, 84 even 
demands that the king shall drive out of the land, as godless and 
fallen, the man that gives away his daughter for money, let ic be 
mentioned that among our old Germanic forbears the free gift of 
the bride was invalid, and only the purchase marriage was valid in law 
(Sohm, Deutsche Rundschau, 1878, p. 99 ; Westermarck ^, p. 429 f.). 

^ According to K. : " than thou " (i, 122.8, that is, tvattah instead 
of tvatah). 

^ Bhavan dehi. The difficulty would be done away with, if we read 
yuktas for yuktam (iii, 115.24). But like con^rudions are found 
elsewhere in the Epic. In the next qiloka I read ca for na. If na is 
kept, then : therefore, it is, that the words I speak unto thee are not 
without a clause (or reservation). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

thee these clear open words, O slayer of foes.' To the Madra 
king made answer Bhishma, overlord of men : ' This law is 
the highe^, O king, proclaimed by Brahma himself. There 
lies nothing of evil in it. The forefathers made this rule. 
And well-known, O ^alya, is this prescription, approved by 
the good, and laid upon thee.' ^ After these words the very 
mighty one gave wrought and unwrought gold, and many 
kinds of jewels in thousands ; elephants, horses and chariots, 
apparel and ornaments, precious ^ones, pearls and coral, that 
shone, did the son of Ganga be^ow. All this did ^alya take 
with joyous heart, and gave him his si^er for it, having decked 
her out. Bhishma, the son of her that wanders unto the sea, 
took Madrl, and went off with her to Haftinapura. When 
then a fitting day and moment was come, approved by the 
excellent ones, King Pandu took hold of Madrl's hand according 
to the holy prescript (i, 113, i ff.)." 

iii, 115.20 ff. is quite the same, a passage with a rather 
ancient look about it. In Kanyakubja was a great and very 
mighty prince, famous under the name of Gadhi ; he went off 
to live in the fore^. But while he was living in the fore^ 
a daughter was born to him, like an Apsaras. Riclka, the 
offspring of Bhrigu, sought her in marriage. To him, the 
Brahman of unbending piety, Gadhi then spoke : " In our 
family a thing is cu^omary which our forefathers brought in, 

1 Bhishma here speaks as a true Indian : what is traditional, the cu^om 
of the fathers, is holy. Ask a Hindu why he follows this cuftom 
or that, and he will immediately say that his father taught him to do 
so and that it was handed down to him from time immemorial. 
Ramakrishna, Life in an Indian Village, London, 1 891, p. 27. So, 
too, Dubois, Hindu Manners, etc., ^, p. 100. Whether the buying 
of a wife is in itself bad or good is left undiscussed withal. In different 
par*-'', or even families in India there prevailed in olden times, and ^ill 
prevail to-day, very varying cuftoms and laws. Moreover, as is well 
known, the Indus populations have never fitted themselves to unbending 
Brahmanism,and were therefore held in ill repute; and that the Madras, 
Vahikas, etc. under Qalya's rule were held not to be ethically polished 
is to be seen easily from Karna's scornful scandalous chronicle of 
these, at leaft so-called, moral barbarians (vii, 40 ff.). But anyhow 
Bhishma does not hesitate to take part in this business as the buyer. 


• Marriage 

A thousand fiery white ^eeds, each with one black ear ^ is 
the purchase price. Know this, O beft of the Brahmans. 
And yet I may not say to thee, the holy one : ' Give,' O 
offspring of Bhrigu. Yet mu^ I give my daughter to a noble- 
natured one like thee." Riclka promised him the ^eeds, 
and got them from Varuna, who made them to come up out 
of the water. The place where it happened is the famous 
horse-tlrtha on the Ganga in Kanyakubja. The holy man 
delivered over the precious race-horses to the father, who 
gave him his daughter in marriage, and the gods themselves 
were groomsmen. All this was done dharmena (according 
to the law).^ These thousand wonderful horses were then 
given by Gadhi to the priests, and six hundred of them play 
a great part in the tale of Galava and Madhavl, which also 
belongs here, and has already been given. 

In xiii, 2.18 the ideal king Duryodhana of the race of Manu 
and Ikshvaku be^ows his daughter in marriage on Agni, and 
demands in^ead of the purchase price (^ulka) the continual 
presence of the fire god. But it may be that rather we have 
here a turn of speech.^ But it does not at all fall naturally 
under the conception of the ^ulka, when the fisherman Da^a 
gives his adopted daughter SatyavatI as wife to the enamoured 
king (^antanu only under the condition that her son shall be 
definitely king (i, 100). 

As we have now seen, it does indeed happen that a mythical 
king may marry a Brahman maiden, even if it is not without 
preliminary scruples because of his own unworthiness. But 
the Indian dislike which runs so ilrongly again^ dragging 
down the woman by marriage into a lower cafte has here 

1 Or : with ears black on one side. So Nil. 

2 Cp. Bhagavatapurana, ix, 15; Vishnupurana, iv, 7 (Wilson, vol. 
4, pp. r3ff.). 

^ But it would seem seriously meant in the case of Citraiigada, 
the daughter of the king in Manipura. The father demands, and 
Arjuna grants him the only son that is possible of the marriage inftead 
of the purchase price (i, 215.25; 217.25). In this family after 
(Jiva's ordinance only one child is ever born, and the present king 
has a daughter. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

borne down almo^ everything before it,^ and the Kshattriya 
wants a Kshattriya maiden, as Dushyanta shows. Cp. also 
xii, 320.59. It is true that in xii, 123.21 marriage into a 
holy family is prescribed as an atonement (cp. xii, 134.2) 
for the king who has done wrong. But whether by the 
mahakula a Brahmanic one is meant cannot be said for certain, 
but seems here to be necessary. On the other hand, in con- 
sonance with the orthodox teaching, Brahmans very often 
unite in the Epic with daughters of Kshattriyas. But here also, 
as elsewhere in the Mahabh., we meet with the traces of a 
more primitive view, and one less flattering to the pride of the 
prie^, among the ruling caste. To the king Duryodhana, 
ju^ mentioned, Agni comes fir^ in the figure of a Brahman, 
and seeks the Kshattriya child in marriage. But, " Poor he is 
and not of my ca^e," so said the king, and would not give 
his daughter to the Brahman. In xiii, 4 we find a variant 
of the tale of the thousand wonderful horses. There we learn 
that why Gadhi had withdrawn into the foreft was because he 
wished to win oflFspring by penance. There a daughter was 
born to him, the incomparably lovely SatyavatI ; she was 
desired by the Brahman Riclka of the greatly famous family 
of the Bhrigus. But Gadhi, crusher of foes, did not give her 
to the high-souled Ricika ; for he thought within himself : 
" He is poor." When the wooer came back again after his 
rejedion, the be^ among kings spoke to him : " Give me the 
purchase price, then thou wilt obtain (vatsyasi 2) my daughter." 
Riclka spoke : " What shall I give thee as price for thy 
daughter, O prince of kings ? Speak without hesitation. 
Let no reluftance be there." Then Gadhi demanded the 
thousand horses, gleaming like the moonbeam, swift as the 

1 It is to be noted, too, that King Yayati, who is moreover called a 
" Rishi " and " Rishi's son ", wins the Brahman's daughter Devayani 
because she has had the curse laid on her that no Brahman shall wed her. 
But in the tale there can be heard the clear note of the ca^e pride of 
the prieft, often sorely humbled by the nobility. So probably that 
curse was purposely invented into the bargain. 

2 Vasati with ace. "to have to look forward to, to fall into something, 
to experience, to obtain " is also found elsewhere in the Epic. Cp. 
v> 35-30; Ram., iv, 20.17. 



wind, black in one ear ; and the Brahman got them from 
Varuna, who brought them up from below the Gariga at the 
very place the suppliant wished. Gadhi was a^onished unto 
death, for he had naturally by his demand only wanted to be 
rid of the unwished for man, but he was afraid of the holy 
one's curse, and gave him his daughter for this payment. 
" And when she had got such a husband, she was taken with 
the greatest joy." 

But it is not only the ca^e which mu^ be looked to in 
marriage, but the younger brother mu^ not marry before the 
elder, nor the younger sifter before one that is above her in 
years, an offence of which, indeed, the law books often speak. 
In the case of such an offence all three (the two brothers 
and the wife) according to xii, 165.68,69 muft, since they have 
loft their cafte through this wrongdoing, undertake the 
Candravana or the Kricchra mortification to be freed from their 
sin. On the other hand, xii, 35.27, 28 lays down an atonement 
only for the two brothers, and that only a twelve days' Kricchra 
vow ; but the younger brother muft marry a second time 
(nive^yam tu punas tena sada tarayata pitrin), as, according to 
xii, 165.70 the "re-marrying man" (parivettar) muft 
respedlfully offer the " re-married man " (parivitti) his wife as 
daughter-in-law (snusha) ^ ; if then the elder brother has 
given him leave, and if his offence has been atoned for, then 
he shall take her to himself by gripping her hand.^ Thus 
according to xii, 165.20 the two men and the woman are freed 
of their fault. As opposed to this, xii, 35.28 declares : " na 
tu striya bhaved dosho, na tu sa tena lipyate, but in the woman 
is no guilt, she is not thereby ftained," which is in contradidlion 

^ According to the comm. as a woman unenjoyed (abhukta). 

2 In Assam the younger brother cannot marry before the ftill 
unwedded elder one has given leave in writing. But the latter now 
cannot marry any longer, and is shunned as one without a cafte 
(Starcke, The Primitive Family in its Origin and Development, New 
York, 1889, pp. 135-36). Among the German people, too, ridicule 
and contempt even now fall on such a luckless fellow or lover of 
freedom : at the younger brother's wedding " he has to dance in the 
swine's trough ", an expression I have heard Heaven knows how many 

E* 105 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

with the view also represented elsewhere in the Smriti ; for 
according to Manu, iii, 172 ; Baudhay., ii, i.i, 39 ; Paragara, 
iv, 23, for instance, all three, together with the girl's guardian, 
and the sacrificial priesl: who officiated at the ceremony, go to 
hell. Ram., iv, 17.36 teaches: "The murderer of king 
or Brahman, the cow-slayer, the thief, he that rejoices in 
de^roying living creatures, the athei^ (nihili^), and the 
re-marrier — they all come into hell." According to xii, 34.4 
the following ^and on the same level with the Brahman- 
murderer : the re-marrying man, the re-married man, the 
younger si^er that marries before the elder (agredidhishu), 
and the husband of an elder sisT:er that marries after the younger 
si^er (didhishupati) ; another ^atement is in Manu, iii, 173.^ 

^ The law books are no less severe. Both the brothers and both 
the husbands in case of a new marriage muft for their defiling offence 
undertake penances. Apa^amba, ii, 5, 12.22. Brothers Gained by 
re-marriage, the husband of the younger but firft-married si^er, and 
the husband of the later-married elder sifter muft, like the thief, 
the atheift, the man expelled from his cafte, etc., not be invited to a 
(^raddha or sacrifice to the dead. Gautama, xv, 16, 18. Cp. xviii, 
18, 19. According to Baudhayana, ii, i, 1.40 the two brothers, the 
prieft who afted at the wedding, and he that beftowed the bride, 
muft cleanse themselves by a twelve days' Kricchra penance ; for the 
wife a three days' faft is enough. According to iv, 6.5—7 pancagavya 
(a mixture of butter, milk, sour milk, dung and urine of the cow) 
mixed with rice-gruel is a help. All these four men participators fall 
into a bad offence, like the murder of one that is not a Brahman, or 
of a cow, like blaspheming the Veda, adultery, etc. Vishnu, xxxvii, 
13 ff. So, too, Yajnav., iii, 234 ff. Cp. Manu, xi, 6. Vishnu, liv, 16, 
lays down for the participators juft named and the re-married elder 
sifter the Candrayana penance. Para^ara, iv, 24, prescribes for the elder 
brother, the prieft, the bride and her guardian variously graduated 
mortifications (Kricchra, Atikricchra, and Candrayana). For the 
MBh., Vasishtha, xx, 7-10 is particularly enlightening : The two 
brothers muft undergo certain defined penances (Kricchra and Ati- 
kricchra), the younger one hand over his wife to the elder, and the 
latter take her as his own wife (probably in form, as the expositor 
says), and then give her back to the other ; then the younger muft 
get married to her again. The man who marries a younger sifter 
before the elder has to carry out twelve days' Kricchra, and then wed 
the elder (probably over and above the other one). The husband 



In consonance with this rule it comes about that the five 
sons of Pandu in the order of their ages take Draupadi to wife 
on five following days (i, 19 1.8 fit. ; 198.13).^ If, on the 
other hand, the elder brother has been expelled from his cafte 
(patita), or has become an ascetic (pravrajita), then the younger 
brother is free to wed (xii, 24-^7)-^ 

of an elder si^er married after the younger one mu^ do atonement 
with Kricchra and Atikricchra (as in Paraqiara the elder brother does 
with doubled Kricchra), and hand over his wife to the husband of the 
younger one (probably only in form, but see Buhler's note SBE, xiv, 
p. 103). That the greater shame should lie moftly on the elder brother 
and the husband of the re-married si^er seems under^andable. The 
snusham in MBh. (in itself remarkable) might be therefore a later 
garbling for an earlier jayam. In the end, however, it would be 
better to take Nilakantha's snushatvena to be wrong, and to translate : 
" The re-married man shall offer (in marriage) this daughter-in-law 
(to the elder brother)." The elder brother, indeed, is like the father. 

^ Winternitz in f'Fiener Zsc/ir. f. d. Kunde d. Morgenlandes, xiv, 
65 f. brings forward MBh., i, 191 and Arjuna's speech there as a leading 
proof of the reahty of polyandric marriage, and says : " Arjuna 
therefore holds it as quite wrong even to think of making Draupadi 
the wife of him alone. He, Yudhishthira, muft, he says, marry her 
firil," etc. But although this reading is in agreement with the marriage 
of the five, as told in the Epic, and there is also no doubt about the 
polyandry of the Pandavas, yet this latter cannot be deduced from that 
passage. Nivi^ means simply : to found a household for oneself, 
and not at all : to wed a certain person. Arjuna says only this : 
" Firil Y. muft take a wife, then we four brothers come in the order of 
our ages, and as he is the lord of us all, so he is, too, of Draupadi 
whom I have won." He might quite well mean here : " If he wishes 
to marry her for himself only, that is right and good." In any case 
what is here expressed is only the dread of the sin of " re-marrying ". 

2 According to Paragara, iv, 25 the younger may marry without 
regard to the elder, if the latter is hunchbacked, a dwarf, impotent, 
weak-witted, gadgada (a ^utterer T), bhnd, deaf, or dumb from birth. 
Those mentioned here and in our Mahabharata passage, together 
with some other afflifted ones, are not entitled either to inherit or to 
have law dealings. They may, indeed, marry, at leaft as a general ■ 
rule, and their offspring can inherit, if this offspring have no defedls. 
See Manu, ix, 201-203, and the parallels given by Buhler in his 
transl. (according to Vishnu, xv, 3 5 ff., the exceptions are the offspring 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

As is well known the polygamy of the man in Aryan India 
is as old as the hills and does not form the slighted ofFence in the 
Brahmanic sy^em, although since Vedic times, indeed, one 
wife is seen to be the usual, often the obvious thing. On the 
other hand, polyandry is utterly repugnant to Indian feelings, 
and in the Epic only one or two cases of it are found, and these 
are exclusively cases of a community of wives among brothers. 

It is a remarkable fadl that the chief heroes of the Mahabh., 
the five brothers, have one wife or head-wife in common, 
Draupadl. Yet this is not so wonderful if we bear in mind 
the origin of the Pandavas. In very many places the Epic 
shows with the utmo^ clearness that the Kauravas are the original 
heroes of the poem, and, as I hold, not, so to say, only those 
of " ballads or ballad cycles " which came before the putting 
together of the adlual Epic, but those of a greater poem, of an 
epic of the Bharatas. No less clearly does the present text 
also show us what unauthorized Granger intruders of a later 
date the Pandavas are. Nothing could be more evident, 
whatever one's attitude may be to Holtzmann's theory in detail. 
To all seeming, the Pandavas were even of non-Aryan ^ock ; 
and no one with an open mind can let himself think that they 
were any cousins of the Kauravas, as the later revision would 
have us believe. Polyandry mu^ probably be called non- Aryan, 
in spite of the objedlion raised by Jolly (Recht tmd Sitte, p. 48), 
and the five brothers, too, were certainly non- Aryan. They 
may very well have belonged to one of the many aboriginal 
peoples or tribes which dwelt and flill dwell in India and on its 
boundaries, and have kept polyandry down to this day.^ It then 
of those deprived of cafte, if born after the criminal ofFence, and that 
of the child, likewise outside the law, which was begotten of a woman 
of higher cafte. Cp. Gautama, xxviii, 45, and especially Kautilya 
(transl.) 257.3 fF. and addits.) Among the South Slavs also it is held 
to be " a firm-based principle of cu^omary law " — and this prevails 
among them as among the Indians, and among all primitive peoples 
and tribes — " that younger brothers and sifters muft: not marry before 
the elder ones." But exceptions are made, when the elder brother 
has a mental or serious bodily illness, or becomes a prieft, or expressly 
gives his leave. Krauss, Sii/e und Branch, etc. 334 f. 

^ A good short account of them in Jolly, Recht und Sitte, p. 48. 
Cp. Hartland, Primitive Paternity, ii, 155 fF. The above words, too, 



was a task of heavy toil to jusT;ify this shocking moral defeft 
of the chief heroes and the pillars of the Brahmanic 
Mahabharata. The one explanation is this : When the 
five brothers, who are going about in Brahman garb, bring 
Draupadi to their mother, and show her to her, the mother 
does not notice what this bhiksha (alms) is, that she supposes 
has been brought home from the begging they ply, and says : 
" Enjoy it together." The mistake has now been made 
once for all, and both she and her band of sons now think that 
the word of a mother is holy and muft be held to, absolutely 
and after the letter. Moreover, they are all aflame with love 
for the wonderfully fair one, and so Yudhishthira deems that 
therefore they would rather all possess her together than that, 
through her, fbrife should come about among the brothers 
(i, 191). When now they tell Draupadl's father of their 
polyandric intentions, who has naturally thought that Arjuna 
has won her and shall marry her, he along with his kinsfolk 
is deeply wounded in his moral feelings. He makes the 
^ronge^ protect again^ such an unheard of adharma (lawless- 
ness, wrong), con Aiding with worldly cu^om and the Veda. 
Yudhisthira, however, has his usual Pilate saying ready to 
hand : " What is Dharma (right, the good) ? No one 
can find his way in such a ticklish que^ion. We take the 
path which our forefathers followed one after the other," 
a way of speech, therefore, like that used of marriage by 
purchase in royal families, although in our passage it is quite 
likely that only a general view can be in que^ion. Then a 
family council is held. Drupada, the father, keeps his ground : 
" I hold it for an adharma that is opposed to the world and the 
Veda. For one wife for many — there is no such thing. 
Neither did the high-souled forefathers have this cu^om, 

were written wholly under the influence of reading the MBh. itself. 
Afterwards I saw to my satisfaction that other inveftigators had long 
ago uttered such views. Thus Winternitz leans towards the view 
that the Pandavas were a "non-Aryan mountain tribe" (WZKM, xiv, 
71). So Hopkins, The Great Epic, pp. 376, 400. On the other hand 
I do not believe that from the passages brought forward by Winternitz 
and others polyandry for India can really be deduced. Cp. also Jacobi, 
Gottinger Gel. Auzeigen 1899, p. 885. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

nor mu^ we in any wise be guilty of this offence againft 
cu^om and law." His son Dhrishtadyumna gives his opinion : 
" How could an elder brother of virtuous ways draw nigh 
unto the wife of his younger brother ? " Yudhishthira keeps 
to it that the highe^ authority on earth is the mother. In 
olden times, too, he says, Jatila of Gotama's race had seven 
Rishis as husbands, so, too, did the Muni's daughter VarkshI 
have regular intercourse with the ten ascetically cleansed 
Pracetas brothers.^ KuntI agrees with him : " So it is. And 
I have a dreadful fear of lying." The holy patriarch of the 
family, Vyasa, is present and announces : " It is the holy and 
eternal law even as Yudhishthira has spoken." Then he rises, 
takes the king by the hand, with him leaves the gathering, 
and now tells him of the cause : 

Once the gods made a great sacrifice ; Yama was the 
slaying prieft ; he now utterly negleded his office as god of 
death ; creatures no longer died, and their numbers brought 
anxiety. There was no longer any di^indion between mortals 
and immortals. Then went the gods to Brahma to complain 
to him of this digress. He consoled them by telling them 
that Yama would split up his personality, and they were now 
to fill this second half with their power, and thus it would bring 
death to beings. In content the gods went to the sacrifice. 
Then they saw on the Gariga a lotus-flower. The hero 
among them, Indra, was sent off to find out whence it came. 
He saw a glorious woman weeping at the source of the Gariga, 
and her tears as they dropped became golden lotus-flowers. 
He asked her the reason of her sorrow. She led him on to 
the mountain top. There he saw a handsome youth playing 
dice together with a young lady ; as the youth, however, in 
his eagerness to play gave him no heed whatever, the king 
of the gods grew angered, and boated of being lord of the 
world. The youth laughed at him, and looked at him. At 
this Indra became as ^iff as a tree-^ump. ^iva (this was the 
dicing hero) bade the woman that shed tears of golden lotuses to 

^ How this " daughter of a tree " came wonderfully into being 
from the trees, and her marriage with the ten Pracetases is told in the 
Puranas, e.g. Vishnu, i, i 5 ; Agni, xviii, 22 ff.; Bhagavata, iv, 30.47 ff. 
Her name was Marisha. 



take the haughty one into a cave in the mountain.^ There 
he saw four shining figures sitting, like him down to the la^ 
hair. At the sight of them he was gripped by sorrow : " Shall 
I perhaps become like these ? " Angrily ^iva told him that 
these were four earlier Indras that had been as haughty, too, 
as he. For this they had all had to come into human life, 
and would bring about great deeds in it. The four Indras 
begged : " May the gods of right and of the wind, Indra 
and the two A^vins, beget us." Indra promised to give them 
a fifth as fellow, sprung from his seed. Now this is Arjuna, 
and his four brothers are the four former Indras. In kindness 
of heart (^iva also granted them the boon that that weeping 
woman, the goddess Lakshml, should be their wife in mankind. 
She was then born in wondrous wise to Drupada out of the 
ground (mahltalat). Vyasa through his ascetic powers then 
endowed the king Drupada with the eye of a god ; so Drupada 
saw the five brothers and Draupadi in their heavenly forms, 
and was now fully contented. 

Then quite needlessly Vyasa told him the same tale he had 
told (i, 169) the five brothers before their wooing of Draupadi, 
and in more or less the same words ; the trishtubh metre 
goes over into the ^loka at the beginning of this piece : There 
was once the daughter of a Rishi, who because of her deeds 
in an earlier exigence found no husband in spite of her beauty. 
Then she gave herself up to hard penance, and when the rejoiced 
(^iva asked her what she would have, in her fierce yearning she 
uttered five times : " Give me a proper man." " Good ; 
five shalt thou have, since thou ha^ said it five times." And 
her remon^rance that she only wanted one was of no help 

(i, 191 ff.)-^ 

The ^ate of things brought about by this marriage now gave 
rise to some difficulty. The divine Rishi Narada, the 
wandering journali^ of the Indian heaven comes up and begs 

^ The world as the dice-game of a god, and ^iva and his wife as 
players, are often-recurring Indian thoughts. 

2 The two la^ legends are clearly marked as being very late, 
childish inventions. See, too, Winternitz, JRAS, 1897, pp. 733 ff. 
An explanation that is partly more sensible, but partly nonsense is 
given in Markandeyapur., v. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

the brothers in heartrending words not to quarrel among them- 
selves because of the woman, as the over-fierce Daitya brothers 
Sunda and Upasunda once had done ; and as a warning example 
he tells them the tale of these demon giants, who held all three 
worlds in the ban of their rule of terror until the Apsaras 
Tilottama through her peerless loveliness so strongly fired 
them both that they slew one another (i, 209-212). Then 
the Pandavas settle it between themselves : if one of us comes 
to another while the latter is with Draupadi, then he mu^ 
live in charity twelve years in the fore^.^ Now one day 
a Brahman comes who has ju^ had his cows ftolen, and sets 
up a truly prie^like outcry before the rulers forgetful of their 
duty, the Pandavas. Arjuna is at once ready to punish, and 
only wants to fetch his arms quickly. But alas ! these are in 
a room where, at this very moment, Yudhishthira is with 

1 The firft half of the ^loka (212.29) ^^ = Draupadya sahaslnam 
anyam no 'nyo 'bhidar^ayet. Bohtlingk's rendering : " to betray " 
is quite a mistaken one. Cp. 213.19, 27, 31, 32. It can be seen how 
foreign to the Aryan Indians polyandric relations are. Where poly- 
andry prevails the matter is mo^Iy very easily arranged. Either each 
sharer in the marriage then takes his turn on his fixed days, or a sign 
before the entrance to the woman warns the others. Such a cave 
canem before the gate to the common love-paradise was among the 
Massagetae the quiver, of the man who was with her, hanging to the 
wife's waggon ; among the Nasamones in Libya the happy man left 
his ^affat the door ; so, too, in Arabia Felix and among the Sabceans. 
Hartland, Primitive Paternity, ii, 130; Ed. Meyer, Geschichte des 
Altertums, i, i^, pp. 25,30; Lippert, Kulturgesch., ii', i i-i 2. The ftaff, 
arrow, or shoe among the old Arabs had to be shown to keep away 
him that was not called. Welhausen, Gott. Nachr. 1893, p. 462, 
Cp. 464. The Tiyan in Malabar make use of a knife in the door- 
frame as a warning sign, the Izhuva or Taudan in South Malabar 
make use of a vessel with water before the entrance. Hartland, I.e., 
ii, pp. 165 f. As is well known it is not only poverty that is the cause of 
polyandry, as has been asserted. Rather the wife of many is juft as 
proud of her wealth in husbands as the polygamic is of his crowd of 
wives ; and the Tibetan woman, for inftance, pities her poor European 
sifter who has to be satisfied with only one representative of manhood. 
No : the more husbands, the greater happiness. Hartland, ii, i6i if. 
Cp. 182. 



Draupadl. He has also the holy duty to take leave of his 
elde^ brother. After long wrestling with his conscience 
Arjuna decides for the higher duty ; he goes in and 
fetches the weapons. After he has run the robbers to earth, 
he comes home again to the sound of rejoicings, and 
makes ready for his long exile in charity. Yudhishthira is 
utterly overwhelmed, declares he bears him no anger whatever, 
and that all is well. " For if the younger goes in to the elder 
(while the latter is with the woman) then that is no harm or 
wrong (upaghata) ; but if the elder goes in to the younger, 
then that is a breach of the holy ordinance." But Arjuna 
in his true boyish way rises proudly up, and shouts : " How 
should I swerve from the truth ! " For Draupadl this parade 
of virtue mu^ have been the more unpleasing in that she did 
not fully share in the disintere^edness of the brothers ; she 
is accused of having preferred Arjuna, and has to atone for it 
at the great departure for heaven (xiv, 87.10 ; xvii, 2.3 ff.). 
It is in harmony with Yudhishthira 's words that even 
Dhrishtadyumna only protects against one thing, that the 
younger brother Arjuna, to whom Draupadl really belongs, 
has to share her with the elder. But that the younger brothers 
have access to the wife of the elder one seems to appear to him 
not at all unnatural or unlawful (i, 196. 10). This exaftly 
corresponds with the well-known arrangement in group- 
marriage, or better, fellowship marriage of brothers, and is 
refleded, too, in a mythical tale in the Mahabh. " Now 
there was once a famous wise Rishi, called Utathya. Mamata 
was the name of his much-prized wife. But Utathya's younger 
brother, the sacrificial prie^ of the heaven-dwellers, Brihaspati 
the majestic, forced himself on Mamata. But Mamata 
said to her brother-in-law, beft among speakers : ' But I 
am with child by thine elder brother. Desi^. And this 
offspring of Utathya within my body has already ^udied the 
Veda with its six auxiliary sciences. But thou art a man of 
irresi^ibly powerful seed. Two cannot find room here. 
But as things are so, do thou therefore now withdraw.' 
Though thus addressed by her aright, yet the noble-minded 
Brihaspati could not hold back his soul filled with love's urge. 
Then, with love's longing full, he united himself with her, 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

who had none of love's longing. But as he ejaculated the 
seed, he that was in the womb said to him : ' Li^en, father 
dear, do not give way to love's heat, there is no room here for 
two, the space is small. ^ And I came here fir^. And 
withal, thy seed, O holy one, is not barren ; I pray thee not 
crowd me.' But Brihaspati likened not to these words of 
the child in the womb, but only forced his way into the lovely- 
eyed Mamata to beget. When he that re^ed in the womb 
marked the spurting seed, with his feet he barred the way againft 
Brihaspati's seed. Then the seed fell swiftly onto the earth, 
driven back without reaching its place. At this Brihaspati 
was angered ; when he saw the seed fall down, filled with rage 
he cursed Utathya's son that was in the womb, he the holy 
seer, did abuse him : ' Since thou has!: spoken such words 
to me at a time like this, which all beings yearn after, thou 
shalt go into a long darkness (dirghatamas).' " The Rishi was 
of a truth born under the name of Dirghatamas, blind from his 
birth owing to the curse of the high-famed Brihaspati, equal 
to Brihaspati in ^rength and power (i, 104.9 ^•)-^ 

It is, indeed, a Grange thing to find a usage, which aroused 
the moral feelings of the Indian, unhesitatingly ascribed to this 
prie^ of the gods, Brihaspati, and to his brother, as also to other 
Rishis and holy women ; and one feels tempted to look 
on such things as echoes from a time when, among even the 
Aryans also, group-marriage may have been a recognized 
in^itution. But such a conclusion would seem to be at lea^ 
a highly uncertain one ; for what Tories are not told among 
the different peoples of gods and holy men ! The Indian has 
often declared, in the Epic, too, that such divine figures as 
these are not tied down to the laws of earth, that mankind 
indeed mu^ follow a loftier ethic than they. True, enlightened 
views such as these belong to a later time, of noble spiritual 
and emotional culture, and can hardly be assumed in the age 

^ Less likely : " for two, with the narrow space, there is no being 
begotten " (literally : there is no being begotten in a small space). 

^ The same ancient legend, which of course has been devised as an 
explanation of the name of the seer and singer Dirghatamas, is found 
again, told shortly, in the xiith book, chap. 341, gl. 49 ff. Cp. also 
Winternitz, WZKM, xx, 3 1 ff. 



when such myths were being shaped, or in the days before it. 
And if for that earher period, too, the same lofty charafter 
of at lea^ some minds were to be assumed, such as shows itself 
already in the oldest Upanishad, that would prove nothing 
for or againft the conditions that might be aftually exiting. 
Thus there is left always a certain doubt. But it is quite 
clear that, as it was, Draupadi's marriage was reluftantly taken ; 
and the words of Karna, the bitter foe, indeed, of the princess 
of Pancala, may not have ftood so isolated in a more primitive 
form of the Epic : " One husband is appointed unto the wife 
by the gods. But this one yields herself into the power of 
more men than one, and therefore this is certain : She is an evil 
woman " (ii, 68.35).! 

Like these legendary traditions of polyandric marriages 
is the evidence in the Epic as to earlier or flill exiting conditions 
of het£erism.2 The gospel of unre^ridled free love, from the 

^ In the Daijakumarac. (p. 209 of my translation), among the " devilish 
wiles " of the gods and holy men (which, however, " because of the 
power of the knowledge of their virtue," were not "detrimental"), 
it is also alleged that Brihaspati used to visit the wife of Utathi. 
With this cp., too, for in^ance, Samayamatrika, iv, 20—35. 

2 Such mythical tales of earher times often seem to me to be altogether 
too bold to be used as wholly credible grounds of proof. Like other 
peoples, the Indians too — and especially often and gloomily — speak 
of an earlier " time without a ruler and filled with terror " : there was 
at that time utter lawlessness, they ate one another, all crimes were 
daily events, until men met together, and chose themselves a king 
(from the Epic cp. for in^ance MBh., xii, 67 ; Ram., vii, 76.33 ff. 
under the text as ^lokah prakshiptah). To say nothing of the faft 
that this pidture does not correspond with more primitive conditions, 
the Indians who told such tales had at any rate no longer any memory 
of such mifty far-off days. A pet theory set the powers of imagination 
at work. The Aino, who are well known to be monogamic, relate in 
their tales that men were allowed in olden days to have more wives than 
one (Chamberlain, Jino Folk Tales, p. 48). Here it is a quite natural 
sophiftication of the underftanding that is speaking, or the knowledge 
that such a thing is cuftomary among other peoples. Polyandry 
is nowhere found in the Veda, but probably, as already pointed out, 
it was to be found among the primitive population in and about India. 
The conditions among them have, anyhow, been the leading cause of 
such suggeftions. But then, mainly under their influence, polyandry 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

lips of the sun god — in this case, indeed, not unprejudiced — 
has already been listened to by us. The Indians tell many 
tales of the Uttarakurus dwelling in the north, an ideal people 
in an ideal land that is a real Utopia. There, we are told, 
the women follow their own inclinations (kamacara bhavanti), 
and neither man nor woman knows jealousy (Irshya na^i 
narlnaranam, xiii, 102.26 ; cp. xiii, 2.13 ff.).^ In the thirty- 
fir^ chapter of Book ii there is a description of how Sahadeva, 
Yudhishthira's brother, when on his world-conquering expedi- 
tion (digvijaya), reaches the farthest south. Before MahishmatI, 
the city of the king there, Nrla,^ he finds himself in very great 
distress, for the god of fire is landing by Nlla, and everything 

may have been found in isolated cases among the Aryan Indians also. 
The Aino juft mentioned believe that, in the far paft, girls enjoyed 
full freedom in sexual intercourse {Anthropos, Bd. v, p. 770). Among 
them it is not so, but it is so among a vaft number of peoples and tribes 
of older times and of to-day, and in the mo^ different lands. The 
Kanakas have a tradition that originally a man had always but one wife 
{Anthropos, ii, p. 385), a shrewd blow againft current " proofs " of 
the development of marriage, by way of promiscuity and other horrors, 
into monogamy. Those who play about with survivals often seem 
quite to have forgotten that man, and above all, more primitive man 
and the child, has not only his adlual experience and his memory 
(which is, however, exceedingly weak) of it, but ftill more a heart filled 
with yearnings, an inquisitive underftanding, and unchecked powers 
of imagination. And in the name of Heaven what would be the good 
of poor mortal man making himself gods, legendary heroes, and saints, 
if they could not do things which the everyday child cannot allow 
himself to do ! 

Horace Man reports a remarkable case of polyandry in the Nicobars. 
The woman had no children by her fir^ husband ; she therefore 
married a second, and could then prove the truth of her suspicion as 
to number one ; both the husbands lived peacefully together, but 
everyone laughed at the family {Transadions of the ()th Internat. 
Congr. of Orientalifls, vol. ii, p. 891). 

^ There, indeed, the " beauteous maidens grow on trees ", and all 
live only for the pleasures of love, as the Epic, too, relates (see, for 
instance. Ram., ii, 91.19 ; iv, 43.37 ff.)- [From Melanesia for plants 
turning into women cp. G. C. Wheeler, Mono-Alu Folklore (London, 
1926), pp. 25-6 (Translator).] 

2 " Blue-black." 



in Sahadeva's army, man and bea^, goes up in flames. " For 
it is learned that the upHfter of sacrifices (Agni) that dwells in 
MihishmatI had once been found out as an adulterer. ^ The 
daughter of King Nlla was fair beyond everything. She always 
came to kindle the burnt sacrifice. But the fire would not 
blaze up, even when fanned with fans, until it was set alight 
with wind coming from the lovely rounded lips. Then the 
holy Agni fell in love with this maiden, who was sweet to 
look on, for King Nlla and all, and she took him to her.^ But 
once when he happened to be sporting in love (with her) in 
the form of a Brahman, the juft king cha^ised him according 
to the precept. Then the glorious uplifter of sacrifices blazed 
up in wrath. When the king saw him he was filled with 
wonder, and bent his head to the ground. Then, in time, the 
prince, with head bent likewise,'^ gave this maiden as wife 
to the fire god with the Brahman form. Then when the 
shining one had accepted this lovely-browed daughter of King 
Nlla, he be^owed his favour on the king. The mo^ excelling 
fulfiller of wishes offered the prince a favour, and the lord of 

^ Paradarika, therefore, here used of wrongful behaviour with a 
woman who is not (here even : not yet) wedded to a man. As to 
the position of MahishmatI, " sacred to Agni," see Pargiter, Mark- 
andeya Parana (Calcutta, 1904), p. 333, note ^. 

2 Hardly : " while Nila, yet, was the king of all." We might perhaps 
read : Nilasyajnasya sarvesham, or better ftill : Nilasyajnate sarve- 
sham " without Nila (and) all knowing anything of it, she took him 
to her ". The genitive too in -sya is sometimes, however, used as an 
ablat. in the MBh. (i, 228.17 ? ii> 81.37 ; xii, 198.6, 11 ; 218.28 ; 
xiv, 24.11 ; espec. too x, 2.6, where daivasya = without favourable 
fate). See further x, 10.14 ; xii, 216.8. If taken so, the traditional 
text, "without Nila (and) all," would come to the same thing. That 
is to say, therefore : " without N. or anyone else having known of it." 
Fire, moreover, mu^ not be blown up by the mouth. Mark.-Pur., 
xxxiv, 112 ; Manu, iv, 53 ; Gautama, ix, 32 ; Apaft., ii, 5, 15.20 ; 
Vasishtha, xii, 27. Nor muft the feet be warmed at fire, nor put over 
or under it, nor mu^ one jump over it. Vishnu, Ixxi, 37 ; Yajiiay, i, 
137 ; Manu, iv, 53 f. Of course, it muft not be touched with the 
foot (MBh., vii, 73.30 ; K., xiv, 108.13 if. ; Yajfiav., i, i 55). 

^ Or perhaps : as it should be, in the right way (tathaiva). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

earth chose invulnerableness in his army. From that time 
all that through want of under^anding (or : knowledge) 
try to take this city are forcibly burned by the fire god. And 
in this city of MahishmatI, as is well known, the women, too, 
were then freed from interference as to their wishes.^ Thus 
Agni granted women the favour that they are not to be held 
back ; for there the women are wholly free, and go the way 
that pleases them." 

In the Mahabh., i, I22 King Pandu makes the following 
speech to his wife, " harmonizing with law and virtue." 
" Now will I make known to thee the true essence of dharma 
(law, cu^om, virtue), listen unto me, the ancient dharma 
perceived by the lofty-minded knowers of it. In former 
times, as is well known, women were left unhindered, ^ O 
thou of the lovely face, going the way of their desires, in freedom, 
O sweet-smiling one. When they, from the years of maiden- 
hood on, did trick their husbands,^ that was nothing wrong, O 
lovely-hipped one, but rather that was the right thing in former 
times. And the same moral law of early times is followed 
^ill to-day, free from love and anger, by the beings that linger 
in an animal-birth. This is the moral order laid down by 

^ Babhuvur anatigrahya yoshita? chandatah kila. More exaftly, 
that is to say : freed from encroachments. I take the word as = avini- 
grahya. " Not to be outdone in their sexual longing " (according to 
a meaning given by Panini) would not go well here. 

2 Anavrita unhindered, not forbidden, accessible to all, not retrained, 
unbridled, free. This word is often found in the MBh., particularly 
as applied to woman, and always with this meaning. As a commen- 
tary take only i, 229.9, 13: anavrita = apratishiddhabhoga ; vii, 
40.36 compared with 44.13- = asamyata. It has also the meaning : 
unclad, naked, and so Jacobi takes it here. Context, use of words, 
and gl. 14 forbid this rendering, important as this further ^atement 
would be. 

3 A maiden, who does not keep her chaftit}', sins again^ her future 
husband. While this view is rooted in the rough conception that the 
man's right of property has even a retrospective force, yet in a noble and 
beautiful meaning it is true ; only it muft likewise be applied, too, 
to the man's behaviour before marriage. Agni is perhaps accordingly 
accused of adultery for lying with a maiden. 



the rule of condud ^ ; it was honoured by the great Rishi 
through observance, and to-day is Slill honoured among the 
Uttarakurus, O thou with the banana-Hke thighs. For this is 
the eternal law that shows favour to women. By whom, 
however, and on what grounds, a short while ago the barrier 
of to-day was set up in our world — learn this now at full length, 
O brightly-smiling one, from me. There was once a great 
Rishi, Uddalaka by name, thus we have heard. Qvetaketu 
was his famous son, the Muni. This (^vetaketu set up 
this barrier of the moral law, and from anger, O thou with 
lotus-leaf eyes. Hear from me why. Once, then, a Brahman 
took (^vetaketu's mother by the hand, before his father's eyes, 
and said : ' Let us go.' Driven by displeasure, the Rishi's 
son gave himself up to wrath, when he saw his mother thus 
led away as though by force. To the angry Cvetaketu his 
father spoke, when he saw him thus : ' Do not yield thyself 
up to wrath, O dear one. This is the eternal law. For the 
female beings of all kinds are unhindered (anavrita). As the 
cows fland before our eyes, dear one, so are all creatures in 
their various kinds.' ^ But the Rishi's son would not bear 

1 Praniana. This word is rendered by Nil. in an earlier passage by 
veda. Na cirat, in the following, might perhaps mean : after a short 
time (inftead of: a short while ago). 

2 The Old Indians have indeed here too, fully anticipated the theories 
of modern science : In the beginning all the men of the clan, the 
horde, or the tribe had the right to enjoy all the women of the com- 
munity ; then came marriage, whether polyandric, polygamic, or 
monogamic, " simple or mixed," but at firft always with the very adual 
consciousness ftill (and one that was often obeyed) that, in spite of 
it, access to a woman was not barred to the other men. In perfeft 
harmony with our tale, for example, is the cuftom among the polygamous 
Nasamones and the monogamic Massagetae, among whom even after 
marriage the wife could be freely visited by all the men. Withal, 
in all probability, father-right prevailed in the original Indo-Germanic 
people, not, as has been held, mother-right. Yet among many 
Indo-Germanic peoples in later times there is evidence even of a com- 
munity of wives, not to speak of other loose cu^oms. See Ed. Meyer, 
Gcsch. d. Altertums, i, i, pp. 26 f And the patriarchate is in itself 
consiftent with the greateft unconcern as to the woman's cha^eness, 
and even after marriage. Cp. for this chapter, among the moderns, 
Hartland, Primitive Paternity, especially the second volume, and in 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

with this law, and he laid down the following moral order for 
woman and man, among h'lman beings only, O excellent one, 
but not among other creatures ; and since that time this moral 
rule has been in existence, and so we have heard : ' If a woman 
is unfaithful to her husband, then, from to-day onwards, that is 
a crime leading to loss of ca^e, like the killing of a child in the 
womb, gruesome and bringing down evil. And in like wise 
it is a crime leading to loss of ca^e, if a man is unfaithful to 
his wife, that has walked in maidenly chastity and keeps faith 
with her husband. A wife lays the same burden on herself, if 
she be charged by her husband for the sake of a son,^ and does 

this especially 101-248 ; H. Schurtz, Urgesch. d. Kultur (1900), 
pp. 105 fF. ; Ed. Aieyer, loc. cit., pp. 1 5-30. I name these three excellent 
works, too, because they are written from differing ^andpoints. 
Schurtz, indeed, believes that he finds the " way out of the dilemma " 
in the highly important theory arising out of his ^udies on " age- 
classes and men's associations" (1902, see espec. pp. 54-56), namely, 
that the " general course of development was this, that the younger 
men had the utmoft freedom of sexual intercourse with all the girls 
of the tribe, but the older men married " ( Urgesch. d. Kultur, espec. 
123 f.). In which case therefore only the cripples of love, so to say, 
would have agreed to marriage — juft as it happens so often among us. 
Eduard Meyer, who here often finds himself with Schurtz, even makes 
the mon^rous assertion that " the free union of the sexes, and there- 
fore promiscuous likewise, exisT:s without exception among all peoples 
and in every community, whether it be that intercourse is left fully free, 
or whether it is put under fixed regulations, and, for in^ance, is only 
allowed between members of certain groups, or whether it is allowed 
to the girls before marriage, or, as with the widespread religious 
prostitution, is direftly enjoined. . . . Among Chriftian peoples, 
in diredt contraft to this, free sexual intercourse ... is officially 
forbidden, but is not thereby the less zealously praftised " {Gesch. d. 
Altertums, i, i. 3, pp. 17 f). Things, indeed, are bad enough on this 
point, but such words give an untrue and diftorted pifture ; in olden 
and in modern times there are plenty of peoples who give much heed 
to the girl's charity, to say nothing of the married woman ; and in 
civilized Chriftian mankind there are, in spite of everything, very 
many chafte wives, and unspotted maids. Here we are not speaking 
of the men. 

^ To let offspring be begotten of herself by another man. Niyukta 
and niyoga (charged, ordering) is the technical term for begetting 



it not.' With these words, O timid one, did (^vetaketu, the 
son of Uddalaka, set up by force the barrier of the moral 
law ... At the time of the Ritu,^ O king's daughter, thou so 
faithful to thy husband, the wife shall not go afield from her 
husband ; these are the words of the law recognized by the law- 
learned. At all other times the woman has free independence 
(svatantryam strl kilarhati) for herself. It is such a law that good 
men call the old one." ^ 

in another's ftead, especially when the brother-in-law or some other 
kinsman raises up, with the widow, children for the dead man. On this 
see below. 

1 The days immediately following the menses, which are proper 
for conception. The husband, therefore, shall not then be injured 
in his title to beget children. Cp. Kautilya (transl.) addit. 252.26 ; 
MBh. K.,xiii, 58-59. 

2 The teaching here set forth is anyhow more acceptable than the 
a6lual cuftom of the Hassanieh Arabs, of whom J. Petherick {Egypt, 
the Soudan and Central Africa, p. 151) reports that the wives in this 
tribe are only bound to be faithful to their husbands for three or four 
days out of the seven in the week and that the latter feel themselves 
highly flattered if their fairer halves have a great many love adventures 
during the marriage holiday ; for they would look on this as a proof 
that their wives were attraftive (Finck, Primitive Love Stories, p. 92 ; 
Henne am Rhyn, Die Frau in der Kuiturgesck., Berhn, 1892, p. 20 ; 
Hartland, ii, 222). The Bahuana in the Congo area demand faith- 
fulness of their wives only during pregnancy : they believe that at this 
time other sexual intercourse harms the child. Not only is the husband, 
among not a few peoples, left cold if his wife be^ows her favours on 
others, but often it is even the greater honour for the wife if she is 
embraced by a great many ; her owner then basks, hke the Hassanieh 
juft mentioned, in the consciousness of calling such a treasure his own. 
So the Brame in Africa is proud when his wife has many lovers ; 
the Kamchadale women plume themselves on the number of their 
lovers ; among the Gindans the fair, hke the "lady in the cheft ", who is 
especially known from the Arabian ftory-book, used to wear, as a 
token of each man conquered and embraced by them, a leathern 
anklet ; among the Bullam, Bago, and Timmaney in Weft Africa 
the married woman who should repel a man she had kindled would be 
held as extremely uncivil and badly brought up ; and among the 
inhabitants of the island of Augila, and the Nasamones, the more men 
lay with a newly-wedded wife on the wedding night, the greater the 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

brilliance in which she shone. Hartland, ii, 119, 183, 131, 118; 
Ed. Meyer, loc. cit., p. 24 ; Lippert, Kulturgesch., ii, 14 ; cp. J. J. 
Meyer, Isoldes Gottesurteii, p. 15 and note 9, and on this 
Hartland, ii, 174; Miiller-Lyer, Phasen d. Liebe (Munchen, 191 3), 
pp. 7 ff. _ 

The woman is only a chattel ; her good points or her defefts have 

their meaning and being only with reference to the man : to his 

sexual pleasure, his feeling of power, his vanity, and so forth. The 

virginity of girls is very generally, among the ruder peoples and tribes, 

not in the slighted an objeft of desire. Pro^itution as a matter of 

course for the as yet unmarried woman is what may be really called 

the rule among them. Of course there are many exceptions. Indeed, 

what is there for the man in such a comfortless " fidion of the brain ", 

as Brantome calls the maidenhead ! Maidenly purity, indeed, often 

is looked on as a shame, even a crime, plenty of intercourse as an honour 

for the girl — anyhow a more consi^ent view for all that than that 

found among us, which one-sidedly so appraises only the man. See, e.g. 

Da9akumaracaritam (in my transl.), p. 45, n. 2 ; Ploss-Bartels*, 

pp. 172, 349, 429, 459 ; ii, 429 ; Finck, Prim. Love, 44 ; 543 fF. ; 

Engels, Ursprung d. Familie, etc. (1894), pp. 35 f.; Weftermarck, 

Human Marriage^, p- 81 ; Starcke, Prim. Family, 121 fF. ; Hartland, 

i, 31 ; ii, 102 ff. (the whole of the 6th chapter with numberless 

examples), 254 if., and elsewhere in the 7th chapter; Schurtz, 

Urgesch. d. Kultur, ch.. ii, espec. p. 123 ff. ; Altersklassen u. Mdnner- 

biinde, 91-93 ; Reitzenftein, Zeitschr. f. Etknolog., Bd. 41, p. 676 ; 

Anthropos, vi, 372 ; vii, 100; Yule's Marco Polo^, ii, 44 (in Tebet 

[Tibet] every girl got a ring from each man that had enjoyed her, 

and unless she could show at lea^ twenty she did not find a husband ; 

cp. the further examples there p. 48). And so on ad infinitum. 

This may then not seldom lead to such incidents as the Finnish peasant 

writer Alkio describes in Puukojunkarit ("Knife Heroes"), his 

great pifture of life in Ofterbotten in the sixties of laft century : here 

too, many girls at leaft find a pride in letting as many young men as 

possible have a share in their bed. If a new love candidate then comes 

while one is already lying in the fair one's arms, then there is a proper 

fight, in which the knife, ^00, is often used, till one of them is beaten 

and thrown down theftairs. Then while the loser is picking up his bones 

down below as weU as he can, the one favoured by the god of battle 

refreshes himself upstairs in the bosom of the large-hearted country 

girl. The same thing is also often found elsewhere among the peasantry. 

Cp. for in^ance Jeremias Gotthelf's great novel Anne Bdbi Jozoager, 

espec. i, ch. 1 3-1 5. That retrospeftive proprietary feeling of the man 

is either not yet to be found there, or it is satisfied by the vanity of the 



owner of a wife that formerly was so run after, feeling itself highly 
gratified ; he it is that has carried off such a pearl and cut the others 
out ! How, then, should this vanity not be juft as delightfully puffed 
up, when she that is already married has a ^rong attradlion for others ! 
If we read this sentence (already, indeed, anticipated by Rousseau) 
in Engels, Der Ursprung d. Familie, etc. (1894), p. 17 : " If anything 
is sure, it is this, that jealousy is a feeling developed relatively late," 
then at firft we call such a thing monftrous beyond words. And yet, 
Finck above all (pp. 82 ff. ; 438 ff. and elsewhere, as also Hartland, 
Primitive Paternity, especially ch. vi) has brought together overwhelm- 
ing evidence that real jealousy is hardly to be met with among more 
primitive peoples ; among the men we can only speak, at moft, of 
anger at the infringement of their rights of property, among the 
women, of envy for her that is favoured by the husband with 
better treatment. Here and there outward circumftances may have 
contributed towards men and women manifefting an indifference like 
this — lower than among the beafts — in things of love. Thus among the 
Eskimos there is the ^ress of life (Dr. H. C. Stratz, Die Frauen- 
kleidung in ikrer natiirl. Entzvickl. ^, p. 18). Especially when the chief, 
prince, or prieft drinks from the same cup as ordinary mortals, the 
men thus favoured feel the moft devout, nay, proudeft joy, and that 
not only among the Kalmucks (We^ermarck, p. 79 ; Finck, 44-45). 
Tout commc chez nous is what even the civilized European muft 
acknowledge, who is familiar with hiftory and the present day. 

The " cattle-girl " in Johannes Schlaf and her sly mate in spe 
is often far outdone. So, for inftance, by many tribes in Algiers. 
There the father sends the daughter who is ripe out into the world, 
that she may gather as much together by her charms as possible. 
Then the girls get married, and those get a husband the quickeft 
who can show by plenty of jingling money how greatly the treasures 
of their Icve have been sought after. This is reported particularly 
of the Uled Nail, and indeed the father, so it is said, there takes the 
money brought home (Robert, XIF. Interna t. Orientaliflenkongress, 
3rd Seft., pp. 572 ff. ; Schweiger-Lerchenfeld, Die Frauen d. Orients, 
p. 296). In the same way the fathers in Nicaragua used to send their 
daughters through the land, for them to get themselves a dowry by 
way of proftitution (Finck, 565, note; 610). And in old Grecian 
times on the island of Cyprus the girls earned their wedding-portion 
by going to the shore and giving themselves to seafarers and travellers 
(Brantome, vol. ii, 375a). Cp. Lippert, Kulturgesch., ii, 13-19; 
Ploss-Bartels, i, 41 3-1 5 ; ii, 17. Of very many peoples it is reported 
that the men make a full use of their wives as a source of income 
by giving them up to others. There is a particularly rich coUedtion 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Another account of the origin of to-day's conditions is given 
in i, 104.22 ff. The blind seer, Dirghatamas, who had already 
been disturbed in the womb by the unbridled passion of his uncle, 
and possibly was thereby already disposed this way — one of the 
Vedic singers — finds a young and lovely Brahmanic wife, by 
name Pradveshi, and begets several sons by her. " The Muni, 
filled with righteousness and virtue, noble-minded, and who 
had reached the further shore of the Veda and Vedaiiga, learned 
fully from Saurabheya (the son of the divine cow of wishes) 
the " cu^om of the cattle 'V and he set about pradlising it, 
full of yearning ^ and without fear. As the excellent Munis 
now looked on him as one that was following a wrong ordinance, 
they were all angered, who dwelt there in the hermitage, and 
overcome by a foolish blindness, speaking thus of the Muni 

again in Finck, passim, and in the 6th chapter of Hartland's Primitive 
Paternity. The old king Pandu was therefore on the right track. 

But it is another que^ion whether we can regard as proof his and 
the other ^atements in the MBh. as to promiscuity in the Aryan pre- 
hiftory of India. The theory of hetasrism or promiscuity as the primary 
ftage of mankind is, indeed, now given up by the moft competent 
inveftigators, and since the Indo-Europeans evidently already had a 
well-ordered family life before their dispersal, and the Veda, too, 
knows nothing of any hetasrism, we cannot put our truft in such legends 
for taking so break-neck a leap into the greyeft dawn of time. The 
Greeks and probably other peoples, too, spin tales in the same way, 
of certain men having introduced marriage, the women having been 
up till then in common. 

^ According to Nil. this is public copulation. But why should D. 
have to " fully learn " such a usage .-' One would be inclined to think 
of the joyous heat, painted by Boccaccio, of the ftallions and mares on 
the Thessalian plains, which the woman described to us by him 
(and before that by Apuleius in the Golden Jss) imitates with her 
lover, as she ftands by the great vat in which her good, scouring 
husband is toiling away. The amorous enjoyment paguvat is of course 
looked on as orthodox. There were also probably other special 
" refinements " in this case. Of course, D. Hkewise did the thing 
publicly, as we muft conclude. On the pubhc sexual adl: cp. Miiller- 
Lyer, Phasen d. Liebe, 16 f ; 65 ; Schrader, Die Indogermanen, 76. 

2 This would seem to be the translation. Otherwise 9raddhavant 
usually means " he that is filled with behef ". 



Dirghatamas ^ : " Alas ! this man hath broken the moral 
rule, and therefore muft not live in the hermitage. Therefore 
will we all shun this evil-minded one." And since his wife 
had won sons, she was then not at his call and bidding. And 
to the hating wife the husband said : " Wherefore do^ thou 
hate me ? " PradveshT spoke : " Because the husband gives 
food to the wife, therefore, after the tradition, is he called 
husband ; and because he offers her shelter, he is called her lord.^ 
I that have not power to maintain thee will not be ever drudging 
and keeping thee, blind fron> birth, together with thy children, 
O great penitent." When the Rishi had heard her words, he 
spoke, filled with wrath, to Pradveshi and her sons : " Lead 
me into the house of a Kshattriya, and wealth of possessions 
will be our lot." Pradveshi spoke : " Possessions given by thee, 
O Brahman, I would not have ; they bring sorrow. Do as 
thou wilt, O prince among the Brahmans ; I shall not keep 
thee as hitherto." Dirghatamas spoke : " From this day on 
the course of law in the world is laid down by me. One 
husband is for the woman the firft thing and the la^ (parayana) 
so long as she lives. Whether he be dead or alive, she shall have 
no other man. But if a wife goes to another man, then 
unfailingly she sinks out of her ca^e. And for unwedded 
women, too, it is from to-day a crime leading to loss of ca^e.' 
But if copulation does come about, then all men mu^ give 
money ; the women withal are not to have any profit from 
the pleasure, but it shall ever be dishonour and shame for 

^ The accus. with verbis dicendi in the meaning : of, about is often 
found in the MBh. (e.g. i, 48.20 ; 123.14; 124.17; 127.5; 165.6; 
167.47,48; 192. II; 193.12 ; iii, 61. 17; 105.20; 191.50; 294.20; 
vi, 120.13, 15 ; vii, 72.23 f . ; 155.41; viii, 40.38 ; ix, 59.20; x, 
9.26; xi, 24.21; xii, 156.3; 249.29). Cp. evam tam vadati, 
so he speaks of thee, Jat., iii, p. i 50, 1. 14. 

^ The well-known, often-found, etymology : bharyaya bharanad 
bharta palanac ca patih smritah, that is, from keeping her that muft 
be kept (that is, the wife) he is called the keeper (that is, the 
husband), and from sheltering, the lord (or husband, given as 
also = shelterer). 

^ That is, if they copulate, and thereby sin againft their future 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

them." ^ His wife is now overcome with anger, and in obedience 
to her bidding, the sons bind the blind man onto a raft, and 
leave him to be carried away by the Gariga. Thus at laft he 
comes into the land of King Bali, who rescues him, and, having 
heard his sT;ory, makes use of him in a way corresponding with 
the peculiar ^rength of the holy man and of which we shall 
hear later. We thus learn, too, from this episode who it is that 
has prostitution for money — that pillar of shame among man- 
kind — on his conscience. 

We are often told that the Madras in north-wesl:ern India, 
the Sindhusauvlrakas, dwelling on the Indus, and the Panjab 
peoples had an evil reputation among the Brahmans of the 
posT:-Vedic age. Even if, indeed, both these views, and Karna's 
words in the Mahabh., which among other things mock at 
the women and the promiscuity prevailing in these places, are 
to be perhaps taken with caution, yet it is not impossible that 
they were not altogether without foundation. " Father and 
son, mother and mother-in-law, father-in-law and maternal 
uncle, son-in-law, daughter, brother, nephew, and other kindred, 
friends, gue^s, and others, slave-men and slave-women — all 
pair, one with the other. With the men the women mingle, 
known or unknown, ju^ as the longing comes on them. How 
should there be virtue among the befouled ^ Madras, a byword 
for their unlovely deeds, among these untutored eaters of groats 
and hsh, who drink heady drink in their houses, and with it 
eat cow's flesh, and then shout and laugh, sing unrhymed 
rubbish, follow their lufls, and chatter such things at one 
another as they choose ? How should the Madra man speak 
of virtue, the son of women that throw off their clothes, and 
so dance, clouded by heady drink, that pair without heed of 
any barrier, and live as their lu^s lead them ^ ; that make water 
landing, like the camel and the ass, have lo^ seemliness and 
virtue, and in all things are without shame — the son of such 
as these, thou wouldft speak here of virtue ! If the Madra 

^ The double conditional particle (yadi and ced) also in ix, 27.25, 
cp.xii, 34.32 ; 152.6; xiii, 115.3; xiv, 48.2. 

2 Avalipta, probably not " haughty " : cp. viii, 44.1 5. 

2 So, if we read — cara^. According to the text with — vara? : 
" who woo (themselves) according to their lufts." 



woman is asked for sour rice gruel, she shakes her buttocks, 
and utters — she, infatuated with giving ^ — these dreadful 
words : ' Let none ask me for my beloved sour rice gruel. 
My son I would give, my husband I would give, but I would 
not give sour rice gruel.' Pale-faced (gauryas), big, shameless 
are the Madra women, clad in woollen wraps, greedy, and 
usually without cleanliness or neatness. Thus do we hear " 
(viii, 40).2 In the forty-fourth canto Karna, among many other 
bitter draughts, knows how to pour out the following for 
Qalya, the king of those parts (a Brahman brought in by 
Karna speaks) : " The people dwelling between the five 
breams and the Indus as sixth, these that are outside the law, and 
also the unclean Bahlkas, let men shun. . . When the women 
have taken heady drink of corn and molasses and taken cows' 
flesh with garlic— they, who eat cakes, flesh, and roamed 
barley, and know not the ways of goodness, sing and dance, 
drunic and unclothed, on the earth-walls of the city and of the 
houses, without wreaths and unanointed, and amid^ drunken, 
lewd songs (avagita) of various kinds, which sound like the noise 
of asses and camels. They know no bridle ^ in their pairing, and 
in all things they follow their lu^. They utter fine sayings 
again^ one another, they, who hold forth maddened by the 
drink : ' Ho there, ye outca^s ! Ho, ye outca^s ! Ca^ 
off by your husband, caft off by your lord ! ' Screaming, this 
refuse of women dance at the festivals, putting no restraint 
upon themselves. A husband of these foul, evil women of the 
Bahlkas, one that dwelt in Kurujaiigala, sang with but little 
rejoicing soul : ' She the tall one, the fair (gaurl) one, clad in 
a thin wool wrap, lies, I know, and thinks of me, the Bahlka 
in Kurujaiigala. When I have crossed the ^atadru and the 
delightful IravatI, and come into my home, then shall I see 

^ Ready to give. 

2 But how can one look for anything better of them .? " They are 
non-Aryans (barbarians) born in a bad land, who know nothing of 
the holy laws." The allusion to such people being like the Mlecchas, 
that is, belonging to the aboriginal population is worthy, however, 
of notice. Cp. for inftance, Pargiter, Markandeya Purana, p. 311, 
and what is there said. 

^ Anavrita. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

the great-shelled, 1 splendid women, the outward corners of 
whose eyes ^ shine with red-lead, the light-skinned women 
anointed ^ with ointment from the mountain of Trikakud, 
wrapped in woollen cloaks and skins, screaming, fair to look 
on.' " Then we are further told how the Bahlkas ^rengthen 
themselves with cakes, groats, and butter-milk, and then 
mishandle and rob the wayfarers, and how their great, light- 
skinned women devour flesh, and soak themselves with heady 
drinks In the forty-fifth canto, 9I. 11 ff., we are told why 
the women of the Gandharas, Madras, and Bahlkas are so evil. 
These tribes or peoples robbed and outraged a good and chafte 
woman, and she uttered the curse that for this their women 
would be loose, and they would not be able to be freed from this 
dreadful evil. Therefore, too, among them it is not the sons, 

^ (^aiikha is here an expression for vulva, though the diftionaries 
do not show anything of this kind. In the " gallant " time of German 
literature also," Muschel " (shell) was used for the woman's pudenda. 

2 Or : forehead marks (apaiiga) ? 

^ Cp. Caland, Die altind. Toten- u. Beflattungsgebraucke, pp. 123 f. 
So far as I know this ointment does not seem to be particularly valuable 
otherwise, and if we take our passage in the Mahabharata, it was looked 
on, indeed, as something vulgar. The Hindu, indeed, has often 
declared that " what mankind eats its gods eat ". And yet we know 
that often only the worthless is dedicated to gods and spirits and their 
service ; they are cheated. Thus, to keep to the dead, these in Old 
India get fringes of garments to clothe themselves, and have to nourish 
themselves with only the hot fteam of the cakes (Caland, Altind. 
Ahnenkult,<^\ 64; 180; t\ie.?,Sim.c,'Totenverehrung,6). If now what 
is worse was, in an earlier culture, looked on as altogether excellent, 
to the supernatural powers it is, as something old, doubly pleasing 
(cp. Schurtz, Urgesck. d. Ku/tur, 306). When the Indian Aryans 
learned how to prepare a better drink, the soma was therefore left for 
the gods. So this ointment which is so highly prized in the ritual 
of the dead in " pre-Epic " times may also have seemed a thing of 
excellence to the ritually pure Aryans. K. for trikakudanjanah has the 
easier reading : gauryas tah kakukujitah " these mournfully cooing ". 

* Their beloved rice gruel is naturally one such heady drink. Sir 
Bampfylde Fuller writes that the mountain-tribes make a gruel from 
a dwarf-rice, that quickly changes to an alcohohc ^ate ; even that which 
has only been boiled a short time before is, he says, a mild intoxicant 
{^Studies of Indian Life and Sentiment, p. i 52). 


Marriage , 

but the sixers' sons who inherit.^ ^alya, who is thus mocked at, 
asserts, on the other hand, that in the land of Ahga which is 
under the rule of Karna, they sell their children and wife 
(xiii, 45.40) ; and in the Ram. (ii, 30.8 ; 83.15) we are told 
that the ^ailushas (adors) hand their wife over for others' use, 
as Manu, viii, 362, also tells us. Neither of these, however, 
is really a case of hetasrism, but they show the man, indeed, as 
the lord, free and none too tender, of the wife.^ 

^ Traces of the matriarchate cannot be proved from the Epic, 
ix, 4.9 gives the lift of the deareft kindred : son, brother, sifter's son, 
and uncle on the mother's side ; ix, 9.46, likewise : son, brother, 
grandfather, maternal uncle, sifter's son, friend. Cp. vi, 46.2 f. In 
ix, 5.12 Krishna's great grief for the dead son of his sifter is 
referred to. But he is also the son of his deareft friend. The relation 
between mother's brother and sifter's son is looked on as naturally a 
very close one in viii, 7.9 f ; ix, 7.20, 39 too : ^alya has even left his 
bhagineya, and is fighting for the Kurus. But the matula is also often 
missing where a lift of deareft kinsfolk is given. So, for inftance, 
in X, 8.98, 121 ; xi, 12.7 ; 16.19, 55 5 ^7-2 ^' ^^ ^^^^ ^^^ particu- 
larly near relation to the mother's brother does not in itself give any 
proof of mother-right is ftressed by Ed. Meyer, loc. cit., p. 29. Accord- 
ing to Hopkins, Journ. Americ. Orient. Soc, xiii, note, pp. 141 f., the 
importance of the matula in the MBh. would even be a later 
phenomenon. Sec too Journ. Roy. Asiatic Soc, xiii, 139, note, and 
Jacobi, Gott. Gel. Jnzeig., 1899, pp. 882 ff. WZKM, xxiii, 165 ; 
Schrader, D. Indogermanen, 75, 107. On the other hand the matri- 
archate is often found among the primitive population of India. 
Thus according to Dalton among the Pani-Koch the property belongs 
to the wife, her daughters inherit it, the husband lives with his mother- 
in-law and muft obey her and his wife ; if he commits adultery he pays 
60 rupees, or is sold as a slave {Zschr.f. EthnoL, vol. v, p. 3 36). Among 
the Khasi in the mountains of Assam the matriarchate is found 
remarkably developed. See Fuller, Indian Life and Sentiment, 171— 
174, and Anthrofos, iv, 892 f. 

^ The law books make, of aftors and singers, the same ftatements as 
something which is a matter of course and known to all, and therefore 
in the case of their wives there is neither the ftri6V prohibition againft 
a man speaking to another's wife or having connexion with her, nor 
does the general principle hold that the husband is not responsible 
for his wife's debts. For these wives have intercourse elsewhere Avith 
the knowledge and wiU of their lords ; these are hidden near by, 

P 129 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

In spite of the ill-report, probably not altogether unfounded, 
as to the loose morals of certain di^rifts, and in spite of occasional 
passages where utter freedom in things of sex is described as 
the primitive and as the ideal,^ there is likewise to be seen in the 
Epic that earned and ftrait view of wedlock which is so often 
manifested by the Indian ; and in spite of the somewhat curious 
Indian garb we get a quite modern feeling of pleasure when 
Yudhishthira in xiii, 19 ff, is wre^ling with dark doubts : 
what is marriage, then, really ? Is it a holy and divine thing, 

and then naturally come forward to claim the rent of love : they live 
on their wives. Baudhayana, ii, 2, 4.3 ; Manu, viii, 362 ; Yajilavalkya, 
ii, 48. Cp. Kautilya (transl.), 252.12 fF. ; 196.7 if. They are thus 
like the men of so many peoples, who are overjoyed when a man flirts 
with their wives, and they can thereby get something out of him. 
Many examples, for instance, in Finck, passim, and Hartland, especially 
ii, 120, 127, 129, 203, 205, 208, 215 ff. Cp. Anthropos, i, p. 935 ; 
iv, 619. 

^ It is this very faft, that promiscuity is set before us so persiflently 
as the primitive ftate, which mu^ be puzzling to the reader. Here we 
have the sensual and the thinking Hindu : how then could it be but 
that his glowing passionate love, his boundless, eager fantasy, and his 
piercing underftanding should have led to such thoughts ? Thus, too, 
the sexual freedom among the more primitive peoples, dwelhng around 
the Indian Aryans and among them, may well have led to the con- 
ception that these were indeed the more primitive conditions ; and 
what is old, is also, to the Hindu, that which is perfection. It should 
also be borne in mind that among the Uttarakurus, dwelling far to the 
north, and the people of King " Blue-Black ", dwelling in the fartheft 
south, a love paradise of this kind is to be found. And it is the women 
that have pleasure and profit from these loose sexual ways, they who 
compared with men have so httle freedom, and according to the Indian 
view are yet by nature so infinitely more sensual. Here the philosopher 
has the word. Here and there, anyhow, there may have been in 
" Epic times ", too, great immorality and hetasri^ic abominations, it 
may be, not without the influence of the non-Aryan tribes. The people 
and culture of India is, indeed, from earlieft times, a mixture, ever 
growing in complexity, of what is Aryan and what is due to the 
aboriginal population. But this is the exadl opposite of " survivals " 
and memory, of the far paft of the Aryans. It is truly Indian to find 
Brihaspad, ii, 28 ff. saying that, in the Eaft, the women pra£tised 
promiscuity, and that there this was, as the cuftom of the land, right. 



or has it only the pradical purpose of begetting, or does it only 
serve the ends of the lowe^ sensuality, does it spring from evil 
powers ? So he comes to Bhishma and asks : " But what is 
called married duty,^ O bull of the Bharatas, which firft 
arises at the time of taking the hand of women, how is it with 
this according to tradition ? Does that, which the great seers 
have called the rule of duty in common, spring from the holy 
Rishis (the compilers of the divine word, of the Veda), or 
from the god of procreation, or from the demons ? Here, so 
methinks, lurks a great and conflicting doubt. And what- 
ever wedded duty is here on earth, what becomes of it after 
death ? For the dead in heaven,^ is there ^ill wedded duty ? 
But when one (of the husband and wife) dies fir^, where ftays 
then the other, tell me, since mankind, the many, partake of 
divers fruits of their toil, are set to divers work (karman), are 
going towards divers hells as their de^ination ? ^ ' Women 
are untrue,' is the verdidl of the compilers of the Sutras.^ If, 
now, women are untrue, why does the tradition speak of the 
duty in common ? ^ ' Women are untrue,' so we read, too, 
in the Veda. Is dharma (duty, order) now here a fir^ (real) 
term ? A metaphorical expression ? A rule for a determined 
case ^ ? This seems to me dark and confused, as I ponder on 

^ Sahadharma, the common duty, ordering of life, virtue. 

^ Read svarge for svargo. 

^ All men, especially kings, save those wholly without sin, muft 
go to hell ; either they fir^ enjoy in heaven the fruits of their good 
works, and then in hell those of their evil works, or the other way 
about. MBh., xviii, 3.12 ff. ; Agnipurana, 369.15-18. 

* According to a saying, which is very often found, giving the hft 
of women's defefts and beginning with anritam. Translated in Kressler, 
Stimmen indischer Lebensklugheit, p. 3 1 ; Bohtlingk, Ind. Spriiche ^, 
328 ; cp. my Hindu Tales, 256, note. 

^ Because of the falseness of womenfolk one could not even be sure 
with them of one's own begotten children ; as Ksheraendra, Darpa- 
dalana, i, i 5 very well reminds us, no one muft be proud of his origin, 
for none knows indeed who his father is. How then could women 
take any share in the higher, religious things ? 

* I do not know whether this translation is the right one. K. (50.7) 
has : dharmo yah purviko drishta, etc. I would therefore translate : 
" Is then the dharma (order, sy^em) that one which is looked on as 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

it ever. Therefore, do thou, O grandfather, thou so deeply 
wise, unfold this all to me, set beyond doubt according to 
revelation, and in its wholeness, when, of what kind,^ and how 
it was introduced." Bhishma's answer to these truly hard and 
intricate que^ions is, in more ways than one, truly Indian. He 
tells him as follows : The mighty one in penance, Ashtavakra, 
wishes to wed, and woos Suprabha, without compare on earth 
for loveliness, the daughter of the Rishi Vadanya, di^inguished,- 
too, on account of her excellent charafter and pure life, one who 
ravishes Ashtavakra's heart at the firfl sight like a flower- 
^rewn foreft in spring. The Rishi says the wooer muft go 
up to the holy north, where ^iva and Uma with their servants 
do dwell and take their delight, where the periods of the world's 
ending and the seasons of the year, the periods of men and of 
the gods, in bodily shape, bring the god their worship ; he will 
at la^ come into a dark-leaved, glorious fore^, and meet 
with a splendid old woman ; then he is to come back home and 
wed. Ashtavakra now wanders ever towards the north, 
reaching, in the Himalaya, Kubera's abode, where he is enter- 
tained mo^ splendidly, so that, to the sound of godlike music, 
he there spends a whole year of the gods.^ Then he goes on his 
way and reaches that fore^ country, which is glorious with 

firft (that is, procreation) ? (Or) eroticism (upacara) ? (Or) the 
carrying out of the aftion of divine service .'' Then Yudhishthira 
would seem to come back to his firft thought: Is it (duty) founded bythe 
Rishis, that is, for the fellowship in religious and holy life ? Or by 
Prajapati, that is, for begetting ? Or by the demons, that is, for 
satisfying sensuality ? But there is nothing said here of three ways of 
solemnizing marriage, which have been supposed. 

1 Yadri(;am " how con^ituted ". 

2 That is, 128,600 human years (see Manu, i, 65 ff. ; Mark.- 
Pur., xlvi ; Vishnupur., i, 3, etc.). Naturally with the heavenly sounds 
he did not notice the time going by, any more than, in Pauli's Scrimp/ 
und ErnR, the Monk of Hei^erbach (so well known especially through 
Wolfgang Miiller's poem) amid the sweet notes of the small bird — a 
motive which has a vaft number of parallels. Thus the king Raivata 
with his daughter likens to the song of the Gandharvas in praise of 
Brahma ; an endless time goes by in this, but seems to him like an 
infant, and when he gets back he finds everything on earth changed. 
Wilson's Vishnupurana, vol. iii, pp. 249 ff. 



fruits and filled with birds at all times of the year, and a 
wonderful penitential grove there. Then he sees a magnificent 
dwelling, surpassing even Kubera's, great mountains of jewels 
and gold, all kinds of precious ^ones, flowers from one of the 
trees of the gods, and other splendours. Seven ravishing maidens, 
differing in form, welcome the gue^, and whichever of them 
he beholds, each delights him, and he can make no choice of 
one ; but he bids his heart be ftill. They lead him up to an old 
woman who is lying on a couch, decked in magnificent 
ornaments. He says that they are all to go away, and only the 
moft under^anding and passionless one is to ^ay behind to wait 
on him. The seven take their leave, and only the old woman 
^ays. But in the night she comes up into his bed, pretending 
that she is so cold. When she then clasps the Rishi, he lies like 
a log. " This she saw with sorrow, and said : ' Brahman, 
otherwise than through love, to women there can come no re^ 
and content from the man.^ I am crazed with love. Love me, 
her that loves. Be roused, Rishi of the Brahmans, unite with 
me. Take me in thine arms ; I am sore tried with love for 
thee. For thereby it is, thou that art beeped in virtue, that the 
fruits of thy work of mortification come into their own ; and 
the bare sight of them gives a longing.^ Thou art the lord over 

^ K. reads: Brahmann, akamakaro '^i, for which read — kara^i: 
" Brahman, ftaunchness of mind (as towards sensuality) arouses 
displeasure in women," or : " ftaunchness of mind in the man is of 
no use to women." 

2 The enjoyment of women is, countless times in Indian literature, 
praised as the mosl glorious thing in heaven and on earth, as the one 
meaning and end of living, or anyhow of the years of youth. The 
ascetic, too, often sees the love of many and lovely women, shining 
before him as the goal and reward in the world beyond, or in a future 
incarnation. Even in grave, deeply ethical writings the like view 
breaks through. So, for inftance, Uvasagadasao, § 246 with comment., 
praises bliss with women as the one happiness, the goal of asceticism ; 
redemption (mokkho) without it is but a threefold captivity and only 
it is the Real in the empty world. Indeed, he that is melted together 
with his beloved in the spell of delight has come into Brahma, into 
Nirvana (cp. Kuttananlmatam, 5 5 8, and my Da^akumarac, pp. 3 and 
356, where many further parallels could be given). Copulation, this 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

all this wealth here, and over me myself. In the entrancing 
fore^ we will dally in love together, all divine and human 
delights we will try. For to the woman there is never anything 
higher than sexual union with the man ; that is her highe^ 
reward. Driven on by love, women live after their own appetites. 
And so they are not burned, though they walk on hot-glowing 
sand.' Ashtavakra spoke : ' To Granger women I never go. 
By those learned in the text-books of the law the touching of 
Grange women has been declared to be evil. Know, my dear 
one, that I will wed, I swear it on the truth ; I know nought 
of the pleasures of the senses ; offspring is here for the sake of the 
holy dispensation. So I wish through sons to come into the 
heavenly worlds. My dear one, acknowledge the moral good, 
and cease.' The woman spoke : ' Neither the god of 
wind, nor he of fire, nor Varuna, nor the other thirty-three 
gods are so dear to women as the god of love ; for to women 
the pleasure of love is all. Among thousands of women, nay, 
among hundreds of thousands, there is to be found only one that 
is faithful to her husband, if, indeed, one at all. They know not 
father, family, mother, brothers, husband, or brothers-in-law ; 
given up to their pleasure, they de^roy families, as great rivers 
de^roy their banks.' Once more repelled by the Rishi, she 
exhorted him to ^ay ; then would his work be done. She 
bathed ^ and anointed him, and gave him hospitality in the 
mo^ splendid wise ; thus the night and the next day went by 
without his noticing it. In the following night she again slipped 
into bed to him, but he said : ' My dear, my mind does not 
lean to grange women. Rise, if it please thee, and desist of 
thine own will.' She answered : ' I am without ties. Thou 
doft, then, not deal wrongly with righteousness and virtue.' ^ 
Ashtavakra spoke : ' There is no being without ties for women, 
for the fair are tied. The teaching of Prajapati is this : 
" Woman is not fit for independence." ' The woman spoke : 

higheft of the five things (paramatattva) leading to perfeflion, or being 
as the gods (siddhi), according to the Tantra writings even brings about 
siddhi and the knowledge of Brahman. 

^ For arriving heroes, guefts, etc., to be bathed by women is quite 
epic in India, too. Cp. Ram., vi, 121.1 ff. 

2 Na dharmacchalam a^i te. 


' I have an urge to pair, an urge that is pain, O Brahman, and 
do thou consider my sacrificing love. Thou do^ sin again^ 
Tightness and virtue in that thou scorned me.' Ashtavaicra 
spoke : ' The divers kinds of vices carry that man away with 
them, that has given himself up to his lu^s. I am ever lord of 
my soul by my staunchness.^ Go into thine own bed, my dear 
one.' The woman spoke : ' With my head I bow, O 
Brahman ; maye^ thou be^ow favour on me, be thou the 
refuge of her that is sinking onto the ground. But if thou see^ 
something forbidden in Granger women, then I give myself 
to thee ; take thou my hand. No guilt will fall on thee, that 
I assure thee on oath. Know that I am free. If there is any 
wrong withal, then it shall fall onto me. I have set my heart 
on thee, and am my own lord ; enjoy me.' Ashtavakra 
spoke : ' How shoulde^ thou be free ? Tell me wherefore. 
In the three worlds is no woman capable of freedom. The 
father wards them in childhood, the husband in youth, the son 
in their old age ; for woman there is no freedom.' The woman 
spoke : ' I have kept maidenly charity ; I am ^ill a maid ; 
of that there is no doubt ; make me thy wife ; do not 
repel my yearning.' Ashtavakra spoke : ' It is with thee as 
with me, it is with me as with thee (that is, we both are in love, 
but not with one another).' Mu^ this not of a truth be a te^, 
a hindrance set by that Rishi ? ^ For that is a wonder beyond 
measure (what I now suddenly see before me). What is be^ 
for me ? For it is as a maid in heavenly comeliness that she 
(the former old woman) has now come to me. But how has 
she now the mo^ splendid of forms ? And how was it that her 
shape seemed aged .? And whence now a maiden's form like 
this ? What else will happen there ? Yet will I call up all 
my ftrength to keep myself from sexual infidelity. For such 
infidelity pleases me not. By truth will I win her (the beloved)." 
He now asked the woman, what all this might mean, and she 
made acknowledgment : " To ^rengthen thee did I make 
this trial. Through thy faithfulness in love (avyutthana) thou 

1 Or : I am ever lord of my ftaunchness, it is ever in my grasp. 

2 Less likely : " I would fain know whether it is a (teeing) 
hindrance, and one to be overcome, set by the Rishi, and not the truth." 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

hafl: won these worlds, thou truly ^out and ^rong one (satya- 
parakrama). Know thou that I am the proteding goddess of 
the northern quarter of the heavens. Thou ha^ now seen the 
fickleness of woman. Even old women are plagued by 
the feverish longing for man.^ Brahma is now content with 
thee,2 as also the gods and Indra. And as to the business on which 
thou, O holy one, did^ come hither, sent by the Brahman 
the father of the maiden, to give thee infhrudion — that has 
all been carried through by me. Thou wilt come happily back 
home, no weariness will come on thee, thou wilt get the maiden, 
and she will bear a son." ^ Then Ashtavakra went back home 
again, related, when que^ioned by the holy man, what he had 
gone through, and he (the holy man) said : " Take my 
daughter, for thou art moil highly worthy." He wedded the 
maiden, and lived with her, full of joy and without sorrow. 

This may seem to some extent a curious " education for 
marriage " ; at lea^, such a thing would hardly be likely to 
arouse very great pleasure in a wooer, and this answer to a 
puzzling and tangled que^ion is shadowy enough, indeed. Yet 
out of this ftory, by no means friendly towards women, there 
looks forth a spirit of deep and earned morality, and a beautiful 
meaning. It sounds cynical, but it is beeped in the light of an 
infinitely higher and purer idealism than the seemingly my^ical 
ecstatic lifting of the eyes of the typical knight of we^ern 
lands, dreaming of his " madonna ". In unsullied charity and 
truth, and fteadfa^c in both — thus shall the man enter into 
wedlock with the beloved maiden, urged by religion, not by 
the lower luft of the senses, and fully aware with himself that the 
woman is a wavering reed. Thus he will not make too great 
demands on her, but rather on himself This may then, too, 
have an ennobling and ^rengthening effed on his mate, who as 
a woman is so susceptible, and the husband may experience 
untroubled joy with her, as did Ashtavakra. Marriage, 

1 So Brantome in his Dames galantes has a lengthy dissertation on 
the theme : Woman never grows old below the girdle. 

2 Holtzmann gives a small section on the relation of Brahma to 
wedlock, as it is found in the MBh. (ZDMG, 38, p. 184). 

3 Or : " sons ". For the whole adventure with the old woman 
cp. the 61^ Jataka. 



therefore, comes from the inspired seers, it is divine, even if 
men fall behind it — a great and fine thought and of deep 
truth. 1 

1 With this ordeal of charity imposed on the man before marriage cp. 
Hartland, Prim. Paternity, n, 80-82 ; 90-91 (the laft case, however, 
reminds us rather of the Finnish cu^om, where the youth and maid 
lie together by night without consummating the sexual union, which 
is well known as a feat of Chri^ian and other saints and of medieval 
love). The law literature in marriage demands from the man not 
only the like love and faithfulness as from the wife, but also unsuUied- 
ness before the wedding. Since the various books of rules for the 
behaviour of the Indian make complete sexual continence a holy duty 
of the scholar, and he muft enter into wedlock at once after this period 
of life is over, this insisTience on charity is to be really found in them 
all. But Yajnavalkya, i, 52 If. also lays it down expressly that : Without 
ever having spotted his charity, thus shall he that is discharged by his 
teacher take home as wife a young woman beloved by him, and that 
has as yet belonged to no man, is healthy, and so on. And Baudhay.,iv, 
I.I I gives this guiding thread : Let a man betroth his daughter as 
nagnika to one that has not broken his vow of chaftitj'. For the Brahma 
marriage particularly, he demands such an unspotted wooer in i, 11, 
20.2. Cp. Manu, iii, 2. It is true that a good deal can happen between 
the consummation of the marriage and a marriage of this kind with a 
child-bride, as prescribed by some at leaft of the legal writings. Cp. 
too R. Schmidt, Ind. Erotik'^, pp. 632 ff. — Besides the tale from the 
MBh. there is Markandeyapur., Ixi, 5 ff. : A young Brahman obtains 
a magic salve for the feet by whose help he covers 1,000 yojanas in one 
day. In the far-off Himalaya the melting snow washes it off him, 
he cannot get home again, and an Apsaras falls in love with him. 
He repels her advances in spite of the loveliness of the heavenly fay : 
" Dear to me is the hearth, and my beloved wife is my divinity 
dwelling about me (ramyammamagnigaranam, devi virtarani priya 65). 
He calls on Agni, who sets him home again in an infant of time. 
And happiness comes, too, for the poor loving woman : a Gandharva 
named Kali has long been in love with her, but has never been likened 
to by her. As she now sits there in her disconsolate abandonment, he 
takes on the shape of the Brahman and dwells long with her in a 
thousand joys ; for she suspeds nothing of the trick. During union, 
however, she has always, at the Gandharva's bidding, to shut her eyes ; 
for at such times and in his sleep he that is magically changed muft 
appear in his true shape, as indeed is seen from the tale of Amor and 
Psyche (the mark of an Indian origin ?). Cp. Mahavagga, i, 63 ; 

F. 137 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

also Wide Awake Stories, p. 193 ; Benfey, Pantschatantra, i, p. 254. 
Perhaps with this there is a connexion also of the motive so widely 
found in the fairy tales of various lands, and in particular so finely 
treated by William Morris, The Earthly Paradise,\\, pp. 164 if. ("The 
Lady of the Land ") — the motive, namely, that the bewitched human 
being or spirit gets back his true shape by being kissed or clasped in 
love. An Indian form, for inftance, Mark.-Pur.. Ixvi, 13 fF. (a goddess 
turned into a gazelle is so re^ored). 



The Wedding 

A LOFTY view of marriage meets us, too, in connexion 
with the wedding ceremony in very many places in the 
Old Indian marriage ritual. In the Grihyasutras or precepts 
for the religious side of dome^ic life there are found, besides 
much old-inherited super^ition, as an ardently sought-for 
goal, two things particularly : fir^, the blessing of children,^ 
especially a wealth of ^out sons ; secondly, cordial relations 
between husband and wife, rooted in mutual love. Starting 
with the choice of a bride, that girl, according to a fine 
verse, often cited, but perhaps seldom followed — ftifled, too, 
among other rules — she shall be chosen towards whom the man's 
soul feels drawn in joyful inclination, and beside this nothing 
else mu^ weigh. At the wedding itself there is a whole 
array of ceremonies and formulas for bringing about a true 
bond between the hearts ; and Kama, the god of love, is 
called upon in the wedding ritual, too. With children and 
grandchildren playing round them, and with these filled with 
gladness, the couple hopes to live a hundred autumns in a 
tender union of souls. This is the ideal handed down from 
Vedic times, only that in aftual life, and also through later 
growths, it is often darkened.^ Here let mention only be made 

^ " The Hindu only marries to have children, and the more he has the 
happier he feels. . . . No Hindu would ever dream of complaining 
that his family was too large, however poor he might be, or however 
numerous his children." Dubois-Beauchamp, Hindu Manners, etc.^, 
p. 94, cp. 593. 

2 " The keen observer of the inner life of Hindu society will have 
no difficulty in discerning . . . that the poore^ Indian villager 
loves his wife as tenderly and affedtionately as the moft refined mortal 
on earth." Ramakrishna, Life in an Indian Village, p. 100. And so 
many another Indian. On the other hand another pifture is given by 
S. C. Bose {The Hindoos as Tkey Are'), who is prejudiced the other way. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

of those exquisite verses of the Rigveda (x, 85.24), with which 
the bride is addressed : " I loose thee from the shackles of 
Varuna (the warden of the moral law in the world) by which 
the kindly Savitar has held thee bound (up to now to thy father's 
family). Into the womb of the Rita,^ into the world of good 
works, I set thee, together with thy husband." Descriptions 
of the wedding as such an important event in the life of the 
heroic couple are often given, too, in the literary epic poetry, 
mo^ beautifully perhaps in Kalidasa's Raghuvarn(;a, canto 7. 
The references, however, in the popular Epic are somewhat 

It is already well known from the Song of Nala and the 
inserted tale of Savitri that, as on every important undertaking 
in India, at the wedding, too, a lucky day and prosperous 
hour was carefully looked for. When Rama has won Sita 
and called his father by messengers, and also the family regi^er 
has been brought forward by both sides, Janaka, the bride's 
father, says to Dagaratha that he wishes to give another 
daughter, Urmila, to Lakshmana, and goes on to say : " Now 
the moon ^ands in Magha (the tenth house of the moon). 
On the third day (from to-day), at the time of the moon's 
house UttaraphalgunI, hold thou the wedding ceremony. 
Let the ancestral sacrifice be made, the godana ceremony ^ 
be done over Rama and over Lakshmana, and happiness- 
bringing gifts be made on their behalf" Viqivamitra then 
seeks the two daughters of Janaka's brother in marriage for 
Bharata and (^atrughna, the younger brothers of Rama, and it 
is agreed that the four couples shall bfe wedded on one day. 
Da^aratha goes home with the prince, has the Craddha or 
cuftoms of the dead and the godana rite carried out, gives 

^ The natural and moral law, governing the whole world, and, 
according to the Indian belief, having its origin and moft important 
centre of life and aftivity in the family. 

2 Godana is a sacramental proceeding carried out on the youth's 
hair in the i6th or i8th year, and described in the Grihyasutras — 
"giving the family cut to the hair" (Hopkins, JAOS, xiii, p. 109). 
(^raddha (this kind is called abhyudayika) are prescribed for all happy 
family events. See, e.g. Crland, Ahnenkult, p. 100, and especially 
" Totenverehrung " (among some Indo-European peoples), 36-39. 


The Wedding 

the Brahmans on behalf of each son 100,000 cows — golden- 
horned, splendid, blessed with calves, yielding a brass pailful 
of milk ; 400,000 of the cows, and many other treasures he 
gives the Brahmans on the occasion of the godana. On the 
same day Bharata's uncle on the mother's side comes, having 
in vain sought for his sifter's son in Ayodhya, and takes part 
in the fe^ival. Next morning the princes, in full decoration, 
with the wedding ^ring ^ in hand, then go together with the 
Rishis to the place of sacrifice. Janaka says his daughters are 
landing in full wedding apparel at the foot of the altar, and 
so let all be carried out forthwith. " Vasishtha set up the 
altar in a shed (prapamadhye), took sweet-smelling flowers, 
golden cooking-pots (suvarnapalika), and coloured pitchers, 
which were all furnished with shoots of trees, as also earthen 
platters ((jarava) decked with shoots, incense-pans with 
perfumes, shell-shaped vessels,^ and great and small sacrificial 
spoons, and vessels holding the water for gue^s ; further, 
dishes filled with roamed corn, and unhusked corn laid out ; 
and he decked the altar round with these things. Vasishtha, 
having ilrewn darbha-grass about according to the precept, 
and to the recitation of holy words, lighted the flame on the 
altar and made sacrifice in the fire. Then Janaka led up 
Slta adorned with every kind of ornament, set her before the 
fire, facing Rama, and now spoke to Kau^alya's son : ' This is 
Slta, my daughter, thy wife. Take her, I beg ; take her hand 
with thy hand. As faithful wife she, the one favoured of 
happiness, follows thee evermore as thy shadow.' After 
these words the king poured the water, consecrated with holy 
sentences, on Rama's hand. The same holy rites were then 
repeated with the other pair. All walked to the right thrice 

^ It is of wool (Raghuvam^a, xvi, 87) and red (Malatlinadhavam, 

2 Thus according to the dictionaries. But perhaps : vessels with 
shells. Shells, like water-filled pitchers, shoots, gold, etc., bring luck. 
See my note Samayamatrika, ii, 7 (p. 1 2) ; Kuttanimatam, p. 1 2, n. r ; 
Toru Dutt, Ballads and Legends of Hindufl/ian, pp. 55, 56 ; Edgar 
Thurfton, Omens and Superflitions of Southern India (London, 19 12), 
p. Ill; Rajendralala Mitra, Indo-Aryans, i, p. 288 ; Caland, Altind. 
To ten- u. Beflattungsgebr., 151. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

round the fire, the king, and the Rishis. Next morning 
Janaka gave his daughters their dowries (kanyadhana) : many 
hundreds of thousands of cows, magnificent cloths, hnen 
garments and 10,000,000 dresses, elephants, horses, chariots, 
and foot soldiery, all of heaven-like Mature and well equipped, 
also a hundred girls, fine men and women slaves, worked and 
unworked gold, pearls, and coral. Then all went home " 
(Ram., i, 70 ff.). In Mahabh., iv, 72 the wedding of Abhi- 
manyu, Arjuna's son, with Uttara, the daughter of the king 
Virata is celebrated with great pomp. Shells, trumpets, 
drums blare out,^ all kinds of bea^s are slaughtered in hundreds, 
divers kinds of heady drinks are plentifully drunk ; singers 
and tale-tellers, dancers and praise-utterers take their share 
in giving glory to the fe^ival, bands of lovely, splendidly 
decked women take part and engirdle the shining bride. Her 
father be^ows on the Pandava, probably for his son, seven 
thousand ^eeds swift as the wind, two hundred thoroughbred 
elephants, and many things besides ; and Krishna likewise 
a great number of precious things, such as women, jewels, 
dresses. Yudhishthira naturally shows himself on this occasion, 
too, as a true god of blessings for the Brahmans. 

i, 198 f. is more important. Vyasa exhorts Yudhishthira : 
" To-day the moon goes into the house of Pushya ; to-day 
be thou the firft to take Krishna's hand." Her father has her 
brought up, she having been bathed and decked with many jewels. 
Full of joy the prince's friends come, the ^ate counsellors, 
the Brahmans, and the leading burghers, to witness the wedding. 
The palace shines with people and precious ^ones. The 
court is decked with ^rewn lotus-flowers. The five youths 
draw nigh in fe^al attire, with rings in their ears, clad in fine 
garments, sprinkled with sandal-water, bathed, consecrated by 
happiness-bringing ceremonies. Together with their sacrificial 
prieft they come in. The prie^ makes the fire, sacrifices amid 
holy hymns (mantra), and unites Yudhishthira with Krishna, 
To the right he has the two led round, who have taken one 

^ Din and music are well known to be held by the Indians, indeed, 
to be very powerful in scaring away demons and bringing good luck. 
Cp. too Winternitz, Das altind. Hochz.eitsrituell, 30. 


The Wedding 

another by the hands. In the same way the four other brothers, 
too, are then joined in wedlock with Draupadl. After the 
wedding the bride's father beftows enormously rich gifts. ^ 
And the Hnen-clad Krishna, with the wedding-^ring fa^ened 
to her, was greeted by her mother-in-law ; and with bowed 
body, her hands folded before her forehead, she ^ood there. 
To Draupadl, her daughter-in-law, gifted with loveliness 
and happiness-yielding bodily features, endowed with virtuous 
ways, to her spoke Pritha in tender love the words : " As 
Indrani towards the god with the yellow ^eeds (Indra), as 
Svaha towards the brightly-shining one (Agni), as RohinI 
towards the god of the moon, as DamayantI towards Nala, 
as Bhadra towards Kubera, as Arundhati towards Vasishtha, 
as Lakshml towards Vishnu — so be thou towards thy husbands, 
a bearer of ^out, long-lived children, a bearer of heroes, 
endowed thou with much good fortune, beloved by thy husband, 
fully gladdened with delights, disposing of sacrifices, and 
faithful to thy husband. May ever the years find thee, as they 
go by, honouring, as is seemly, gue^s and new-comers, the good 
and those that chou should^ heed, old and young. In the 
kingdoms, fir^ among which is Kurujarigala, and in the cities 
be thou dedicated to the king as 'wealth of virtue' (as queen to 
Yudhishthira). The whole earth, conquered by thy ftout 
husbands with valiant heroes' ^rength, do thou make over to the 
Brahmans at the horse sacrifice, the great offering. Whatever 
surpassing jewels there be on earth, O thou that art gifted with 
excellences, win them for thine, O lovely one, and be happy 
through a hundred autumns. And as I greet thee linen-clad 
to-day, O daughter-in-law, so will I with far greater joy greet 
thee, O thou gifted with excellences, when thou ha^ borne a son." 
Likewise when Arjuna wedded Krishna's si^er, Krishna 
made magnificent gifts. "To them (the Pandavas) Krishna, 
he in high renown, gave very great wealth because of the 

^ A hundred slave-girls in the firft bloom of youth are among the 
treasures be^owed by Drupada on each of the five Pandavas. Cp. 
also v, 192.31 ; i, 199.13 f. As Kshattriyas are here concerned, the 
Rajput cuftom may also be compared, by which at the wedding the 
bridegroom's every wish, whatever it is, mu^ be fulfilled by the girl's 
father. Tod, Rajafihan, i, 526. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

kinship through marriage./ the marriage-portion (harana) 
of Subhadra, the gift to the kinsfolk. A thousand chariots 
with golden fittings, wreathed in numberless bells, four-horsed, 
with skilled and tried drivers, did the glorious Krishna give, 
and a myriad of cows from the neighbourhood of Madhura, 
rich in milk, shining fair. And a thousand thoroughbred -mares, 
that shone there like the moon's (white) beam, and were decked 
with gold, Janardana gave out of love, as also, to each, five 
hundred ^ well-trained, wind-swift, black-maned white she- 
mules.^ A thousand women the lotus-eyed one gave (them) — 
light-skinned,^ clad in fair raiment, shining splendidly, decked 
with hundreds of gold ornaments on their necks, free of body- 
hair, well cared for, and skilled to serve, skilful at the bath, 
at the drinking, and at fe^ivals, and endowed with youth. And 
a hundred thousand saddle-horses from Bah'i did Janardana 
give (Subhadra), as an all-surpassing morning-gift (kanyadhana), 
and of the beft worked and unworked gold, gleaming like fire, 

1 Janyarthe. I do not know whether janya can altogether have this 
meaning, not given in the diftionaries. The translation might also be : 
for the newly wedded wife (janya). According to Nil. the meaning is : 
he gave to them for those made kin by marriage, as to these kin by 

2 Or : faultless. 

^ That is, 500 for each of the brothers. Literally : " five and five 
hundred." Is it then rather : a thousand (in all) .'' 

* As the ass, indeed in the Eaft is often a big, fine, nimble beail, so 
in the Indian Epic, too, he is usually looked on as swift and valuable 
(1,144.7,18; ii, 51.19, 20, 25 ; xiii, 27.9 ; Ram., ii, 70.23). The 
mule, especially the she-mule is seen as being ^ill swifter and more highly 
prized (i, 221.48 ; iii, 192.51 ; v, 86.12 ; viii, 38.5 ff. ; xiii, 66.3 ; 
93.31; 103. 10; Ii8.i3ff.). A chariot harnessed to especially swift 
she-mules travels fourteen yojanas a day (v, 86.12). The "Epic" 
yojana, therefore, cannot be either 9 or 10 or 7^ English miles, but 
probably only about 2 to 3 (hardly 4 or 5). Cp. note 5 in my Twice 
Told Tales (Chicago, 1903). 

^ Or : splendid (gauri) ? According to the schol. = that have 
not yet menstruated, and so also he explains aroma " in whom the line 
of hair (so highly praised by the poets) above the navel has not yet 
sprouted ". On this charm of the woman see my translation of 
Damodaragupta's Kuttanimatam, p. 10. 


The Wedding 

loads for ten men. But Rama, the plough-bearer (Krishna's 
elder brother Baladeva), the lover of pert, bold deeds, joyfully 
gave Arjuna as wedding-gift (panigrahanika), to honour the 
union, a thousand rutting elephants, streaming three-fold 
rutting-sap,i like unto mountain-tops, and fleeing not in the 
battle, harnessed, hung w^ith loud-ringing bells, splendid, 
wreathed with gold, furnished with drivers" (i, 221.44 ff.).^ 
According to the commentary. Ram., 39.2 and 66.4 alludes 
to a cu^om not without its charm : at the wedding of Sita with 
Rama her father takes a jewel out of (or, from ?) the hand 
of her mother and hands it to the father of her bridegroom 
for the latter to fa^en it on her as a head-ornament. 

1 At the sides of the head, the roots of the ears, and the genitals. 
Cp. 1,151.4; vi, 64.58 ; 116.56. But saptadha sravan in vi, 95.33, 
as repeatedly in the literature elsewhere. 

2 So we see, that when the girl flies out of the father's ne^, then 
plenty of golden birds fly out at the same time from the purse (or, to 
speak as the Old Indians, out of the money-knot) of her father. So 
it is among the Turks (Osmani Bey, Die Irauen i. d. Turkei, Berlin, 
1886, pp. 49-50, 54,70). Itis well known that to marry ofFdaughters 
in India often means to ruin the family, and even down to the children 
and children's children. 


Life in Marriage 

WHEN now the woman is married, how does her life 
in marriage go on ? What is expefted of her ? What 
is granted her ? The firft purpose of woman is the bearing of 
offspring. In a quite wholesome, if often exaggerated dressing 
of this great task in life of the woman, the Epic agrees with 
the reft of the literature.^ In addition to the well-known reasons 
more or less adlive almo^ all over the world, which set such 
extraordinary importance on offspring, and that usually 
male offspring, there are especially in India religious ones, too : 
the son mu^ make the sacrifices for the dead to his fathers which 
are absolutely necessary for their welfare in the other world. 
He saves them from an exigence in hell or among ghofts, 
and leads them to heaven. Thus marriage is necessary for 
both sexes. ^ 

^ This view, indeed, is the more or less prevailing one throughout 
the world. For the woman, cursed already through her very sex, 
the son is atonement and reconciliation. To give one example only, 
and that from a Chri^ian people : among the Armenians the young 
wife muft not even speak, except with her husband, until she has 
borne a son (Lucy M. J. Garnett, The Women of Turkey and Their 
Folk Lore, London, 1893, i, p. 241 ; Schweiger-Lerchenfeld, Die 
Frauen d. Orients, 440). From the Indian law jiterature only Narada, 
xii, 19 ; Manu, ix, 96 will be mentioned. 

2 We can read, for in^ance, in Weftermarck ^, 136 fF. and Ploss- 
Bartels *, ii, 285 ff. how absolutely necessary marriage is looked on 
by the various peoples and tribes. Here we give only one further 
example : * " When a servant (of God)," said the Prophet, " marries, 
verily he perfefts half of his religion." He once asked a man, "Art thou 
married ? " The man answered, " No." " And art thou," said he, 
" sound and healthy ? " The answer was, " Yes." " Then," said 
Mohammed, " thou art one of the brothers of the devils ; for the 
moil wicked among you are the unmarried, and the moft vile among 
your dead are the unmarried ; moreover, the married are those who 


Life in Marriage 

An impressive legend meant to show this is told more than 
once in the Mahabharata. The great penitent Jaratkaru 
goes throughout the world, living by the wind, dried up, 
bathing at holy places. Then one day he sees hunger- racked, 
emaciated, woeful beings hanging head down in a cave, clinging 
to a bunch of the Andropogon murtcatus plant, which itself 
holds on only by a thread, which is furthermore being greedily 
gnawed at by a mouse. All the other roots have been already 
bitten through by it. Moved by pity, he asks the wretched 
creatures : " Who are ye ? When the mouse has gnawed 
through this one root, then ye will fall headlong down. What 
can I do for you unhappy ones ? I will give you a fourth, a third, 
or the half of what I have earned by penance, or even the whole 
of it, to save you." " Thou art old, and liveft in chastity, but our 
sore plight cannot be altered by asceticism. We ourselves have 
penitential fruits. It is through the lack of offspring that we 
are falling into the unclean hell. For to beget offspring is the 
highefl duty and virtue, so Brahma has said. While we hang 
here thus, there is no glimmer of consciousness in us ; therefore 
we know thee not, whose manly prowess is famous in the 
world. We are the race of the Yayavaras, Rishis of ftrift piety, 
sunk down hither from a pure and holy world through the lack 
of offspring. Our mighty asceticism is lo^, for we have no 
thread of family left. One man there is, indeed, for us unhappy 
ones, but he is as good as wanting ; for this fatal one does 
but give himself up to asceticism ; Jaratkaru is the name of 
the famous knower of the Vedas and the Vedarigas. By him 
we have been set in this awful plight because of his greed for 
^rength by penance. He has neither wife nor child, nor any 
kinsman. Therefore do we hang in the cave, robbed of 
consciousness. The mouse is time, which now having gnawed 
through all our other family threads, is fastening its teeth, too, 
into the la^ : into that simple, mad Jaratkaru, who yearns only 
after asceticism. Look how we have come down to the depths 

are acquitted of filthy conversation ; and by Him in whose hand is 
my soul, the devil hath not a weapon more effeftive againft the virtuous, 
both men and women, than the negledl of marriage." ' Lane, Arabian 
Society in the Middle Ages, London, 1883, p. 221 ; Garnett, Women 
of Turkey, ii, 480. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

like evil-doers ; and when we have fallen down together with all 
our kindred, then he, too, will go unto hell. Penitence, or 
sacrifice, or whatever other mighty means of purification there 
is, all these are not to be set by the side of continuing the family. 
If thou seest him, tell him what thou ha^ seen, that he may take 
a wife and beget sons. But who then art thou to pity ^ our race, 
the race of his kindred, like thine own race and as if a kins- 
man ? " In a voice choked with tears, Jaratkaru spoke : " Ye 
are my forbears : fathers and grandfathers. / am Jaratkaru, 
your sinful son. Punish me, an evil-doer without nobility of 
soul ! " " What a happiness that thou should^ have chanced 
to come into this neighbourhood, O son ! And wherefore ha^ 
thou taken no wife ? " " In my heart was ever this one 
purpose, to bring my body in full charity into that other world. 
But since that I have seen you hanging like birds, my mind has 
now turned away from fleshly continence. I will do what 
ye so Wrongly wish, and settle down to dome^ic life, if I find a 
maiden having the same name with me, who is offered me of 
her own accord as a gift, and whom I have not to support. But 
not otherwise. The child that is born to us shall save you. 
Eternal and knowing no decay shall my forefathers remain." 

But no one would give his daughter to the old man. Filled 
with despair, thrice he then cried out in the wilderness : " I ask 
for a maiden. All beings that here dwell shall hear me. My 
forbears are in dreadful torment, and drive me on to marriage." 
Then he made known his conditions. The servants of the 
snake spirit Vasuki told their lord of the matter, who brought 
him his si^er, who bore the same name as the penitent, and 
the prince of snakes furthermore promised that he himself 
would support and protedl them ; and the laft condition — that 
nothing unpleasing was to be done to the difficult ascetic, 
otherwise he would leave his wife — was agreed to ; and so he 
dwelt with his young wife in great splendour in the palace of 
Vasuki, the prince of the snakes, and begot a son.^ 

Of Jaratkaru this tale is told twice : in i, 45 f., and in a 
version somewhat shorter, in part agreeing literally, in i, 13.10 ff. 

^ Read : bandhur iva, as in 13.21. 

2 Why the prince of the snakes is so complaisant is shown especially 
in i, 38, 39. 


Life in Marriage 

On the other hand the celebrated holy man Aga^ya appears 
as the hero in the condensed account in iii, 96.14 ff. When 
this Rishi then wishes to wed, he sees no woman worthy of him. 
Therefore from various creatures he takes the fine^ parts, 
and forms, correspondingly, an incomparable female being, whom 
he gives as a daughter to the king of Vidarbha, who is leading 
an ascetic life to obtain offspring. Lopamudra is her name. 
At the prince's court she grows up to unheard of loveliness, 
and when she has come to marriageable age, she is surrounded 
by a hundred fair-decked maidens, and a hundred slave-girls ; 
but through fear none dares to sue for her. Through her 
form, that outshines even the Apsarases, and her virtuous ways 
she rejoices her father (that is, her fo^er- father) and her 
kinsfolk. But gloomy thoughts come on the king, as he 
asks himself to whom he shall marry her. Then Aga^ya 
comes, and desires her. The prince cannot refuse him, but 
neither has he any wish whatsoever to marry her to him. 
At a loss he complains to his wife that if the Rishi is angered 
by anyone, he will burn him with the fire of his curse. Then 
the daughter comes to her troubled parents and speaks : " Give 
me to him and save thyself through me." And so it comes 
about. ^ 

Pandu in i, 1 20. 1 5 ff. bewails his sorrow to the holy men : 
" For him that has no offspring no door to heaven is known 
or is named ; this torments me. I am not free of my debt 
towards my forbears. When my life is at an end, then it is 
the end of my fathers. Men are born on earth with four 
kinds of duty : towards the forefathers, the gods, the Rishis, 
and mankind, and to them the debt mu^ be paid according to 
the holy law. But for those that do not look to this debt at the 
fitting time, for them are no worlds of heaven ; thus have 
those learned in the law laid it down. It is through sacrifices 
that the gods are appeased, the Munis through the^udy ofthe 

^ Cp. with this legend Bhandarkar, Ninth Internal. Congress of 
OrientaliRs, vol. i, p. 426 ; and the tale how his forefathers appear to 
the ascetic Ruci, who has never taken a wife, upbraid him, and remind 
him of his duty to beget a son ; and how through their power he 
gets Malini, the daughter of an Apsaras, as wife. Mark.-Pur., xcv f. ; 
Garudapur., 88-90. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Vedas (composed by the Rishis) and through asceticism, the 
fathers through sons, through gifts to forbears, and mankind 
through benevolent charity." And in v, ii8.7f. Galava 
speaks to King U^Inara : " Thou art childless ; beget two 
sons. In the boat of ' son ', ferry thy forefathers and thee 
thyself over to the other shore. For he that partakes of the 
fruit of sons is not ca^ down from heaven, nor does he go to 
the dreadful hell like the sonless." So vii, 173.53, 54 teaches : 
" For men yearn for sons to this end : Who shall save us from 
sorrow .? For their own good do fathers yearn after sons, who 
with friendly hearts bring them salvation from out of this 
world in that beyond." Sadly speaks Pandu to KuntI (i, 1 20.28- 
30) : " Offspring, indeed, is the abiding-place in the worlds 
that concords with the law. I have sacrificed, given alms, 
praftised asceticism, thoroughly carried out vows of mortifica- 
tion, but all this, it is declared, does not purge the childless 
man of sin. I, a childless man, shall not reach the pure, fair 
worlds." Here belongs ii, 41.27, 28 : "To make offerings 
to the gods, to give alms, to ^udy the holy writings, and 
to sacrifice with abundant sacrificial gifts, all this is not worth 
a sixteenth part so much as offspring. Whatever he brings 
about with many vows and much facing, all is fruitless for the 
childless man." So in i, 100.67-69 : "The sacrifice in fire, 
the three Vedas, and the propagation of the family are everlasting. 
All of them (that is, of the other things) are not worth a sixteenth 
part of offspring.^ So it is among mankind, and ju^ so among 
creatures. Thus it is. What is called offspring, that it is which 
is the threefold Veda of the ancients, and of the godheads that 

^ According to the comment., however, as also according to the 
printed text : " The fire-sacrifice and the propagation of the three- 
fold wisdom (of the threefold Veda), which indeed are everlafting, all 
these," etc. Cp. i, 74.64. The three things named in the text are 
the " threefold debt " which is very often found in the Veda and then 
later ; that is, everyone owes sacrifices to the gods, gifts for the dead 
to the forefathers, Veda ^udy to the Rishis. MBh.,xii, 28.55 ; 63.20; 
234.7; 269.16; Manu, ii, 36 ; Vishnu, xxvii, i 5-17 ; Yajnav.,i, 14 ; 
Baudhayana, ii, 9, 16.4-7 5 Vasishtha, xi, 48, and Biihler's note to it 
SBE, xiv, p. 56. 

Life in Marriage 

which lafteth for ever." ^ — " Three are the lights which man 
has on earth : children, deeds, knowledge " (ii, 72.5 ; and 
K., i, 107.73) ' a"d ^s a rule of life we find in xiii, 68.34 : 
" Let a man wed and beget sons, for in them there is a profit 
greater than any other profit." The sonless man was born to 
no end (iii, 200.4 Q-> ^"d he that does not propagate himself 
is godless (adharmika) ; for to carry on the blood is the 
highefi: duty and virtue (xii, 34. 14). 2 As is well known, 
therefore, for the Indians the birth of a son is looked on as the 
greater happiness on earth. From the Epic we will take only 
one saying about this, and it we take because of the nobility 
of soul shown there : " The gift of a kingdom, the birth of 
a son, and the saving of a foe from a danger — these three are 
one and the same thing " (iii, 243.13 ; v, 33.67). The son is 
the very self of his begetter in many meanings of that word, 
born anew from his wife, as we so often read in Indian litera- 
ture, and also, for in^ance, in iii, 313.71 ; xiv, 81.20 ; 90.63. 

Therefore, and quite logically, of the four slages of the Indian 
earthly pilgrimage, the condition of father of the family is 
over and over again declared as the besl; and highe^ — a rank 
for which it undoubtedly has mainly to thank the fad that with 
this condition the prie^ly ca^e, depending on charity, ^ands 
and falls. And the Epic, naturally, often is found in agreement 
with this. So, for example, xii, 295.39 ; xiv, 44.17 ; 45.13 ; 
xii, 234.6 ; 12.6 ; i, 2.390. Cp. xii, 64.6 ; 66.15, etc. 

Naj', juft as in the old Upanishad, life itself with its pains 
and sorrows is called tapas (asceticism), so the Mahabh. proclaims 
the condition of father of the family, family life, to be tapas ^ 

^ According to the Grihyasutras the father thus solemnly speaks to 
his scion : " Thou art named the Veda, (thou art named) son ; O live 
a hundred autumns ! " 

2 And so the man tliat has died childless becomes an evil, harmful 
ghoft. Garudapur., Pretakalpa (ed. ^rlvenkate^vara-Press, Bombay, 
1906) 9.56-62; 1 1. 4-10; 20.4-47; 21. 1 ff. ; Crooke, Popular 
Relig. and Folk-Lore of Northern India. New ed. ii, 77, cp. what 
follows ; Schmidt, Lie be u. Ehe in Indien, 475. 

^ Life itself or its sorrow appears as tapas also in xiv, 35.32, and 
cleansing through suffering in vii, 78.30; for there Subhadra 
bewailing her fallen son names in a long formula of blessing the 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

(xii, 66.23 ; 269.7 > ^"^ especially 11) : "Here they tell 
this old tale, the words of Indra with the penitents. . . . 
Some Brahmans left their house and went into the fore^ ; 
before their mou^ache had grown, the foolish ones, who sprang 
from good families, became ascetics. This is the ' good ' (dharma), 
they thought, who were rich and practised charity, and left 
brother and father. On them Indra took pity. The sublime 
one spoke to them, having changed himself into a golden 
bird : ' Hard unto men is that which is done by the devourers 
of the remains of food. It is a holy deed, and a praiseworthy 
life. They have reached their goal, having come onto the mo^ 
excellent path, they, given up to virtue.' The Rishis spoke : 
' Listen now ! This bird is praising the devourers of the 
remains of food. He is, of a surety, praising us ; we too are 
devourers of the remains of food.' The bird spoke : ' It is not 
ye, the fools that devour dirt-coated, dufty ^ refuse that I 
praise ; of a truth the devourers of the remains of food are 
others.' The Rishis spoke : 'This is thehighe^ good ((;reyas), 
so we think, and give ourselves up to it. Speak, O bird, what 
is the "good ", we have great tru^ in thee.' The bird spoke : 
' If ye do not split yourselves up into yourselves, and put doubt 
into me, I will speak to you according to the truth, wholesome 
words.' The Rishis spoke : 'We hearken to thy words, the 
paths are known unto thee. And we will cling to thy precept, 
thou that art informed by virtue ; teach us.' The bird spoke : 

9okagnidagdhas, too, as among the nobleft and holieft men to whose 
world the dead man shall go. A parallel to this is to be found in the 
fViga/ois o[ Wnnt von Grafenberg : the Mohammedan woman Jafite 
from grief for her husband has died by his body. The poet prays 
God to show her his grace for : " Her baptism was the sorrow she 
suffered for her love." But, probably, that Wolfram so greatly admired 
by Wirnt, together with Parzi/a/, i, 824 ff., was here the pattern. Cp. 
too my note to Damodaragupta's Kuttanimatam, 297 (p. 44). Tapas 
is also the work in life (iii, 33.72 ; cp. 313.88 ; the Bhagavadglta ; 
ManUjXi, 236), and according to MBh.,xii, 263.27 itis the service of 
God (yajna, sacrifice) — both of which are thoughts which Luther, 
as before him Berthold von Regensburg, preached so magnificently. 
That marriage is self-denial, purgatory, etc., is also an utterance of 
the people in various places. 
1 Or : filled with passion ? 


Life in Marriage 

' It is among the four-footed that the cow is be^, among the 
metals (loha) gold, among the sounds the holy saying (mantra), 
among the two-footed the Brahman. The holy saying is for 
the Brahman, so long as he lives, according to the time, a 
precept from the holy cu^oms, diredlly after birth unto the end 
on the field of the dead.^ The Vedic deeds are for him the 
unsurpassable path to heaven. Hence they (the holy men of 
early ages) have so contrived that all deeds have their perfe(5lion 
and effedl in the mantras. He that holds his own ^outly — it is 
thus that success is won on earth, so it is assumed.^ The 
months and half-months, the seasons of the year, sun, moon, 
and ^ars — all beings ^rive after what is known as aftion 
(karma). This is the holy field where success grows, this is 
the great occupation in life (a^rama). Therefore does a debt 
of sin re^ on the blinded, aimless men who dispraise adtion, 
and walk on an evil path. The deluded ones live betraying the 
various divisions of the gods, of the forefathers, and 
of the Brahmans, these the ever enduring ; therefore do they 
go along a path that belongs not to the holy revelation. ^ Let 
that be the fitting tapas for you, which says : I give ; that 
the seers have ^raitly enjoined. Therefore is endurance in 
this very thing called the asceticism (tapas) of the rich in 
asceticism. The dividing oneself among the bands of the 
gods, the bands of the Brahmans, and the bands of the fore- 
fathers, the ever enduring, and the service of the gurus * (that 
we should let each one of these have his share) — this, of a truth, 

^ Read nidhanad abhi ? K. here also smooths things and has 
nidhanantakah. Abhi with the ablat. = " hither from " is found 
in xii, 8.23 (adhi with ablat. = " from",.v, 55.47). Since now a 
with ablat. means " from " and " until ", my proposed emendation 
perhaps has a good deal to be said for it. 

^ Or : driven after. I read : atha te inftead of katham me. K. 
offers the unattradlive : atha sarvani karmani mantrasiddhani cakshate 
Amnayadridhavadini, tatha siddhir iheshyate. Atmanam dridhavadin, 
liter. : he that ^outly addresses the self, or, that declares the self as 

^ Or : they go (after death) the path of forgetfulness, that is, they 
are born again as low beings ; or : their name and memory fades out. 
* Guru is father, mother, husband, teacher, etc. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

is called the heavy task. The gods have performed this heavy 
task, and so have reached the highe^ place of power ; therefore 
I declare unto you that it is a hard thing to live for the condition 
of father of the family. For this root of beings is the highest 
tapas, of that is no doubt. For everything has its exigence 
in it through this family order. This tapas wsls known to the 
unenvying Brahmans, set above all dissension ; therefore the 
midway duty of life (that landing between the Brahmans and 
the hermit's duty) is called tapas among men. And those that 
eat the remains come to places in heaven hard to win, having 
at morning and evening shared out, as is seemly, food among 
their dependants. Devourers of the remains of food are called 
those that eat what is left, after having given to the gue^s, 
the gods, the forbears, and their own folk. Therefore, if they 
fulfil their duty, are pious, and speak the truth, they become 
gurus of the world, and without ftain. These unselfish men, 
that do hard deeds, come into the paradise of Indra, and dwell 
years everla^ing in the world of heaven ' " — This the brothers 
then took to their hearts, went back home and took wives. ^ 

1 With this tale compare Jataka No. 393. The demand that the 
wife and servants shall eat fir^ is often made in the MBh., too, but is 
well known to be in sharp contraft with the Indian cuftom. Also 
the law literature lays down : Firft the marter of the house muft 
feed pregnant women, maidens, women under his proteftion, children, 
old men, servants, etc., and then laft of all may he (or : he and his 
wife) eat. See Baudhayana, ii, 7.19 ; Gautama, v, 25 ; Apa^., ii, 
2, 4.11-13 ; ii, 4, 9.10; Yajnav., i, 105 ; Vasishtha, xi, 5 fF. ; Manu, 
iii, 114-116. Moreover, Manu, iii, 114 = Vishnu, Ixvii, 39 
declares that the mafter of the house muft feed, even before his guefts, 
an unwedded or newly-betrothed maiden, a sick and a pregnant woman. 
Cp. Kautilya (transl.), 3.13, and above all -J. J. Meyer, ^///W. Rechts- 
schriften, 271 f. Mahanirvanatantra,viii, 33 lays it down very ftrongly 
that, even if he were at the laft gasp, he muft not eat before he has 
satisfied mother, father, son, wife, gueft or brother. On the other hand, 
Vasishtha, xii, 31 (this being according to ^atapathabrahmana, x, 
5, 2.9) gives the warning that if a man eats together with his wife, 
his sons will be without manly power. In the same way Gaut., ix, 32 ; 
Manu, iv, 43 ; Yajnav., i, 1 3 1 ; Vishnu, Ixviii, 46, forbid eating in the 
company or the presence of the wife. Baudhayana,!, i, 2.1 ff. describes 
it as a usual, and therefore there, but there only, a good cu^om in 

Life in Marriage 

How utterly needful for woman marriage is, we have already 
been told ; and ix, 52 makes a parallel to the tale of the fore- 
fathers hanging in the cave. The Rishi Kunivarga, mighty 
through penance, begot from his mind a daughter, and then 
went into heaven. Though he wanted to give away the fair- 
browed, lotus-eyed one in marriage, she would not. She saw 
no men that were worthy of her as a husband. " With strenuous 
asceticism she racked her own body, found her delight in the 
lonely foreil in worshipping her forefathers and the gods, and 
believed as she strove, that she had done all that was her duty. 
When, worn out by age and asceticism, she could not walk 
another ^ep by herself, she resolved to go unto the other world. 
But when (the heavenly Rishi) Narada saw that she wished to 
ca^ off her body, he spoke : ' How should the worlds of 
heaven be open to thee, the sacramentally unconsecrated 
(that is, unwedded) maiden ! Thus have I heard in the world 
of the gods. Thou haft won the highe^ penitential merit, 
but not the worlds of heaven.'" Now she promised the half 
of the fruits of her asceticism to him who should take her hand. 
The Rishi Prak^ririgavant took her to wife ; and she changed 
for a night into a wonderful and glorious young girl, and lay 
with him. Next morning she left the wrapping of the body, 
and went into heaven. Deeply the Rishi sorrowed over his 
short happiness with the enchanting one, but he had, indeed, 
the half of her penitential merit at his free disposal ; so he 
followed her into heaven, drawn by her loveliness. The end 
and reward of woman is this indeed : the pleasures of love 
and children (she is ratiputraphala, ii, 5.1 12 ; v, 39.67) and 
the barren wife is worthless (xii, 78.41). Nay, what a childless 
woman (aputrika) looks on, that the gods and forbears will 
not accept at the sacrifice, for it is Gained (xiii, 127, 13,14) ; 

the south for the man to eat with his wife. And Narada enjoins that 
he shall quickly drive out of the house a woman that eats before her 
husband, as also the woman who is always doing evil to him, or being 
unfriendly to him (xii, 93). The reason of the prohibition will be 
found in J. J. Meyer, Altind. Rechtsschr., 1 2 ; 369, note; Apaftamba,ii, 
4, 9.1 1 says : The father of the family may ftint himself and his 
in food, but not the slave that works for him. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

and the gifts that are made by a woman without husband and 
children, rob the receiver of his hfe-powers (xii, 36.27).^ 

From the Song of Nala we know already that barren 
marriages were to be found in Old India, too, and " in the 
be^ families ", indeed, oftene^ of all in them ; and that this 
mishap was very sorely felt. And the Epic, too, has a whole 
set of tales of how in a particular case the evil was at la^ over- 
come. As the universal remedy, in this case likewise, asceticism, 
of course, is efficacious. " Sons, that bring much happiness, 
are won by fathers through tapas, the practise of chastity, truth, 
and patience. Mothers win a fruit of their body through 
facing, sacrifice, vows, holding fe^ivals, and luck-bringing 
things, and carry it ten months in the womb ; and then these 
poor ones think to themselves : Will they be safely born, or 
keep alive, or, when they have been brought up and are ^rong, 
bring us joy in this world and the other (xii, 7.13 ff.). Cp. iii, 
205.18 fF. ; xii, 150.14. Among the mo^ efficacious things, 
too, handed down from of old is magic of every kind ; and, indeed, 
in India there is no essential difference between worship of the 
gods and witchcraft. It is significant that mantra can denote 
a song filled with charaifleri^ic depth of thought, or a nobility 
of heart truly raised above this earth, and also a magic spell, 
of an evil that out-devils the Devil. Spells again^ barrenness 
are to be found, for instance, in Weber's Ind. Studien^ v, 23 f. ; 
and a witches' ceremony in Paraskara-Grihyasutra, i, 13. 
Schmidt, Erotik^ 891. 

The Epic likewise naturally knows of magic for this end, 
or at leaft what is bound up with magic. The well-known 
fruitof the tree 2 isfound in ii, 17.18 ff. Brihadratha, the king 

^ In the belief of to-day the Yamuna (Jumna) is not wedded, 
and therefore many will not drink its unclean water. Crooke, Popul. 
Relig., etc., i, 36 f. And among the Nambutiri the marriage ceremony 
mu^ be done over the body of an unwedded girl. Dubois-Beauchamp ^, 
pp. 16-17. 

2 Cp. Chauvin, vi, 84 ; vii, 84 ; Hartland, Prim. Pat., i, 4 fF. ; 
Fr. v. d. Leyen in Herrigs Archiv, Bd. 1 14, p. 14 ; Bd. 1 1 5, p. 12, and 
the quotations there; Crooke, Pop. Relig., etc., i, 225 if., and the 
evidence there; further Tod, RajaHhan, i, 612; Reitzenftein, 
Zeitschr. f. Ethnol., Bd. 41 (1909), p. 665 ; Chavannes, Cinq cents 
contes, i, 305 ; etc. 


Life in Marriage 

of Magadha, wedded the two lovely twin-daughters of the 
prince of Ka^i. " While he lay sunk in sensual enjoyment, 
his youth ^ went by him, and no son, no upholder of the line 
was born to him. With luck-bringing things (marigala), 
many fiery sacrifices, and smaller offerings aimed at a son, the 
beft of the herdsmen of men yet got no son to carry on the 
family." Then in despair he went off with his wives into the 
penitential fore^.^ One day he there heard that the great 
ascetic Candakau^ika had happened to come thither, and was 
sitting by a tree. Together with his wives he waited on him ^ 
with mo^ earned feelings. The rejoiced penitent told him 
to choose a favour for himself." Then Brihadratha bowed low 
and spoke unto him, his voice choked with tears, for he despaired 
of seeing a son : " O glorious and holy man, I have forsaken 
a kingdom, and have come into the penitential fore^. What 
could I, an unhappy man do with a favour, what should I, a 
childless man, do with a kingdom ! " Moved to sorrow by 
these words, the holy man took his seat under a mango-tree. 
Then there fell onto his lap a juicy mango-fruit that no parrot 
had pecked at.* This he wrapped with mantras, speaking 

^ Read : alyagat. 

2 This sentence after K., where the episode is also further 
spun out. 

^ Read : sarvayatnais. 

* All that is broken, torn, or harmed is in Brahmanic belief uncanny 
and calamitous. The Jataka, which often mocks at super^ition, has 
a pretty tale of a man, one of whose garments the mice gnawed, 
and who then looked on this as an embodied curse and evil boding of 
dreadful things. His son had to take it with all speed on a ^ick to the 
place of dead bodies (No. 87). Cp. Rhys Davids, BuddhiU Suttas, 
p. 171 ; J. V. Negelein, Traumschlussel des Jagaddeva, p. 209 ; 
MBh., xiii, 104.49, 59, 66 ; xvi, 2.5 ; J. J. Meyer, Altind. Rechtsschr., 
espec. p. 440, addit. to p. 360. Moreover in the German Middle Ages 
also, it was believed that anyone who had his clothing gnawed by mice 
would have a mishap. Ztschr. d. Fer. f. Volksk., Bd. 11, p. 278. 
The fruit that birds have pecked muft not be eaten, otherwise atone- 
ment muft be made by ^rift mortification. Vasishtha, xiv, 33 ; 
Vishnu, xxiii, 49 ; li, 17 ; Manu, iv, 208 ; Gautama, xvii, 10. It is 
otherwise in Vishnu, xxiii, 49 ; Vasishtha, xxviii, 8 ; Baudhayana, i, 
5, 9.2 ; according to which the bird that throws down a fruit by 
pecking at it does not make it unclean. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

in his heart, gave it, without compare and bestowing sons, to 
the prince, and spoke : " Go home again ; thy wish is 
fulfilled." The king gave it to both wives so as not to hurt 
one of them ; they divided the wonderful gift and ate it. But 
then, alas, each of them bore half a little human being ! ^ 
They had these lumps of flesh exposed outside the city by their 
nurses. But a RakshasI found the misbirths, put the two halves 
together, and a ^rong boy came out of them, which she had 
handed over to the king. 

Also trees in themselves are be^owers of children. To the 
already-mentioned Brahman Riclka there comes, after his 
marriage with the king's daughter Satyavatl, his father Bhrigu, 
and leaves it to his daughter-in-law to choose a favour.^ She 
chooses a son for herself, and one for her mother. He says 
they shall clasp a tree ritau,^ the daughter an udumbara-tree, 
the mother an a^vattha-tree,* and each eat a sacrificial dish 
(caru) consecrated by a mantra. But the mother gets her 
daughter to exchange the food in the pot, and the tree, with her, 
and so things go wrong here, too. For the objeft of the arrange- 
ment was this : the Brahman's wife was to bring forth a 

^ [From Melanesia for conception through eating nuts cp. G. C, 
Wheeler in Archiv f. Religionswiss., vol. xv, p. 355 (Translator).] 

2 So according to iii, 1 1 5 . 3 1 if. 

^ In the favourable time for conception, from the fourth day on- 
wards after the firft coming of the monthly purification. 

* As to the endless theme of the tree and woman's sexual life — 
on which a note will also be found (No. 212) in my book Isoldes 
Gottesurteil, p. 285 — reference will here only be made to Chavannes, 
Cinj cents contes et apologues ex traits du Tripitaka chinois, ii, p. 14; 
Storfer, Marias jungfrauliche Mutterschaft, p. 165; Crooke, Pop. 
Rel., ii, 99, 102, 122 ; Cultus Arborum, A Descriptive Account of 
Phallic Tree Worship, 1 890, pp. 7, 35, 38,93 f ; Reitzenftein, Zeitsckr. 
f. EthnoL, Bd. 41, pp. 648-671 ; W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus d. 
Germanen (1876), passim. And for the clasping of the tree cp. besides 
Hartland, i, 127 f, Agnipurana, 198.4b fF., where, however, kantha- 
sutra probably means " necklace ". If mankind comes from trees 
(see also Albrecht Dietrich, " Mutter Erde," Archiv f. Religionszviss., 
viii,pp. 16 ff.; Hartland, i, 1 3 ff.), then it is no wonder that the human 
race at firft lived, too, in trees, as we are told in the good Darwin 
way in Markandeyapurana, xlix, 26 fF., 52 if. 


Life in Marriage 

pattern Brahman, and her mother, the king's wife, an outstand- 
ing warrior ; and now things would have been ju^ the opposite, 
but that through the grace of a second miracle the warlike nature 
of the Brahman's child came to be put off at leaft to the grand- 
child, the celebrated Para^urama ; while the queen bears 
the Vi9vamitra who afterwards became a Brahman. This 
tale is told at greater length in xiii, 4.21 ff. ; and in this 
account it is Riclka himself who grants the favour, gives the 
diredions, and appears throughout. A third form is found in 
xii, 48. There only the two sacrificial dishes appear, and not 
the trees.i 

The main con^ituent of the caru is rice. A rice-dish also 
ads as putrlya (son-granting) in Ram., i, 16 ; only this account 
has a far more modern and artificial charafter. King Da(jaratha 
is childless, and makes the horse-sacrifice to overcome this 
misfortune. When the putrlya ishti is sacrificed, there floats 
out of the fire in mighty form Vishnu, who has once already 
been besought by the gods to become man, and he offers the 
prince in a mighty dish heavenly milky-rice (payasa) prepared 
by the gods, and says that the queens are to eat this food, and 
will then bear sons. Thus are born Rama and his brothers.^ 
A magical sacrifice where the queen is to eat of the sacrificial 
food, to get twins, is also held by King Drupada (MBh., 
i, 1 67). Tirthas, or holy bathing-places that be^ow children, are 
mentioned, for in^ance in iii, 83.58 ; 84.98 =^87.9). If 
anyone in the right condition of soul makes a pilgrimage to the 
tirtha Kanya^rama, and there faSls three days, he wins a 
divine hundred of daughters, and heaven (iii, 83.190). This 
second reward will be found a very fitting one. 

But it is well-known that pious devices do not always help 
in this matter ; a good friend mu^ then play his part.^ And 

^ Cp. Vishnupur., iv, 7; Bhagavatapur., ix, 15. Here also 
Ricika is the bcftowcr, and only the caru-dish is used as a means. 

2 Cp. Agnipur., V, 4-5. 

^ In India, at leaft according to many accounts, the spiritual gentry 
are ever ready to aft as such charitable brethren. Some temples have 
a great renown, because in them '" barren " wives become pregnant ; 
while the Brahmans in their humble piety leave the honour to the god 
(Vishnu). As their wages, however, they demand the handsome^ 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

this helpful neighhour, among the Hindus, has not always 
found opposition from the husband's side, if he himself was 
unfitted for the task ; rather the husband has even invited or 
exhorted him, as the Epic and the other literature tells us. In 
the Mahabh. the begetter by proxy has a very important place. 

We have already heard of the blind-born Dirghaiamas, his 
unpleasing ways in love, and his repulsion by wife and children. 
Fa^ened by the latter onto a raft, he drifted down the Gariga, 
and in the end came into the kingdom of King Bali. And the 
virtuous-souled Bali, the truly brave one, took him and chose 
him out for the business of sons, having learned who he was : 
" For the carrying on of my line, do thou beget, with my wives, 
sons skilled in religious and worldly things." Thus addressed, 
the very mighty Rishi answered : " Yes." Then the king 
sent him his wife Sudeshna. But the queen knowing that 
he was old and blind, did not go, but sent the old man her 
nurse's daughter. With this (^udra he begat eleven sons (i, 
104.41 ff.). In the 56th 9loka Bhishma thus ends his account : 
In this way there were begotten on earth by Brahmans other 
Kshattriyas also, great in bowmanship, with moft excellent 
knowledge of virtue, brave, and with mighty strength. 

Pandu, himself prevented from the use of his manly powers, 
bewails in i, 120 his being condemned to unhappiness in this 
world and the next, because he has no son ; he exhorts his wife 
KuntI to see to it that this be made otherwise, and goes on 
to say : " Therefore do I now send thee, being myself deprived 
of begetting. Do thou win offspring from one that is equal to 
me, or better than I. Hearken, O KuntI, to this tale of 
^aradandayinl. This heroic wife was charged (niyukta) by 
her husband to get a son. She now went, having had her 
period, with pure and holy mind, having bathed (on the fourth 
day) ; she went in the night to a cross-road, and picked out a 
Brahman that had come to perfedlion (dvijarn siddham), after 
she had made sacrifice to the fire god to get a son. And when 

women as " wives for the god ". Dubois-Beauchamp, Hindu Manners, 
etc. ^, pp. 593, 601 f. Cp. Thuriton, Omens and Superliitions, etc., 
pp. 147 f. Moreover, it is enough in itself for a woman to kiss the 
member of an ascetic to get a child. Schmidt, Liebe u. Ehe in Indien, 
481. Cp. further Hartland, i, 62 ff., 69, 76, 1 16 ff., 121 ff. 


Life in Marriage 

this work was done, she Hved with him, and there gave hfe to 
three sons : Durjaya, and the two others, great chariot- 
fighters. Do thou, O lovely one, be swiftly birring about my 
business (manniyogat) so that thou raise up offspring for thyself 
from a Brahman of outstanding asceticism" (i, 120.35 ff.). 
So, too, in 122.30, 31 he makes the beseeching reque^ that she 
shall obtain for herself sons of excelling gifts, from a Brahman 
distinguished for tapas. In like wise the Brahman Vasishtha calls 
a son into being for the king Kalmashapada (who is here, be it 
said, divyena vidhina), and at this prince's own reque^. Here, 
too, a curse is at work, i, 177.32 ff. ; cp. 182.26. The same 
old holy man does this service in i, 122.21 f. : " By the son of 
Uddalaka, ^vetaketu Sandasa, the pious MadayantI (his wife) 
was charged (niyukta), and went to the Rishi Vasishtha, so 
we have been told. From him the fair one got a son, A(;maka 
by name. And this she did to show a favour to her husband." 

And indeed the whole caite of warriors now living owes its 
origin to the Brahmans ; for when Para^urama had blotted 
out all Kshattriyas on the earth, " then Brahmans wise in the 
Veda united with all the Kshattriya women, and begat offspring. 
' The son belongs to him that has married the woman,' ^ 
so it is laid down in the Vedas. Setting their minds ^eadfa^y 
on righteousness and virtue (dharmarn manasi sarn^hapya), 
they went to the Brahmans. Among ourselves, too, has been 
seen the same revivalof Kshattriyas brought about " (i, 104.1 ff.). 
i, 64.4—26 paints in glowing colours what a ^rong, virtuous, 
blissful race sprung from this union. 

When King Vicitravlrya has died childless, his half-brother 
Bhishma, who carries on the government, says : " I will also 
name the means (hetu) that is necessary for the propagation 
and increase of the Bharata blood. Hearken thou unto it from 
my lips : Some Brahman gifted with excellences muSt be 
invited for money to raise up children on Vicitravlrya's field 
for him " (i, 105. 1-2). 

In these lasl two cases the husband of the women is at any rate 
dead ; but both of them belong rather to our case than to the real 
niyoga or levirate ; and it is to be particularly noted that in 

^ Panigrahasya tanayah ; pater eft quem nuptiae demonftrant ; 
I'enfant con^u pendant le mariage a pour pere le mari (Code Napoleon). 

G 161 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

the place la^ mentioned the begetter by proxy has to be paid. 
It is in the hght, too, of this that Pandu's words ju^ given, 
about him " that is better" than he (i, 120.37), are undoubtedly 
to be understood ; and no less so his utterance : " Men in their 
misfortune yearn after a son from a more excellent sub^itute 
in begetting.^ (So) men acquire offspring that bestows the 
fruits of pious order, and is more excellent than even that from 
their own seed — so has Manu, the son of him that sprang from 
himself, spoken" (i, 120.35-36). Here uttama devara 
certainly points also to a Brahman ; from him a better progeny 
naturally springs than from the seed of the nobility. No 
less are Pandu's words in i, 120.22—23 probably aimed at the 
Brahman's adling as the love-proxies for others : " Here on 
earth, therefore, the be^ of men (narottamah) are born for the 
sake of offspring (that is, to get it for others). How can offspring 
arise on a field, as I arose on my father's field through the 
great Rishi (Vyasa) ? " 

It is significant that even the disciple is found as the marriage 
representative of his teacher, while otherwise one of the mo^ 
awful sins is in this very thing of the disciple lying (gurutalpin) 
with his teacher's wife. Thus in xii, 34.22 we read : " For 
the mounting of the teacher's marriage-bed, when this is done 
on his behalf, does not smirch the man ; Uddalaka had 
^vetaketu begotten for him by his disciple." 

The gods themselves, who, indeed, in the sagas of the mo^ 
different peoples take in hand the begetting of famous heroes, 
flep in with their help in the moil: famous case in the Epic of 
the love proxyship contrived by the husband : the birth of the 

1 This flock expression apadi " in the time of misfortune " is thus 
explained, for inflance, by the commentary on Manu, ix, 56 : " When 
there is no male offspring." — " More excellent " than the husband 
himself. Or : " From one that is mofl: excellent." Less hkely : 
"A &on is yearned for from a more excellent man as proxy in begetting." 
Devara " proxy in begetting " would seem to be made sure by our 
passage alone, but is also found in the MBh. In Yajfiav., i, 68, and 
Narada, xii, 80, the word perhaps has this meaning likewise, if we 
take in the firfl passage va — va.=^- "either — or ", which would be quite 
possible, and in Narada, xii, 85 tatha as " also, likewise " (Jolly trans- 
lates by " or "), and not " in this wise ". 


Life in Marriage 

chief heroes of the Mahabh., the five Pandavas (i, i2off.). 
King Pandu has drawn down on himself the curse that he shall 
at once die, if he do copulate. Therefore from then on he 
refrains. But he needs sons. Therefore does he urge his 
wife KuntI to get from another what he cannot give her.^ 
But she makes answer : " Thou mu^ not speak thus to me, 
who am a virtuous wife, and find my delight by thee, O lotus- 
eyed one. But thou, O hero, wilt beget with me, in lawful 
wise, children endowed with heroes' ^rength. I will go into 
heaven together with thee. Come thou to me that there may 
be offspring. I myself, indeed, could draw nigh unto no other 
man in my thoughts but thee. And what man on earth were 
more excellent than thou ? " Then she relates to him the old 
legend of the loving wife who even got children from her dead 
husband ; and winds up by saying he shall beftow offspring 
on her in purely spiritual wise, through the yoga powers he 
has won by ilern asceticism. But now he tells her of the 
primitive betas ri^ic conditions that were done away with by 
^vetaketu, and of the charge which ^vetaketu himself then 
laid later on his wife MadayantI ; he teaches her that wives 
are ^ill sexually free except at the time after their period, and, 
that they muft be wholly obedient to their husband, whether 
he demand right or wrong of them ; and he ends by beseeching 
her not to deprive him of the well-being in the beyond which 
belongs to those endowed with sons. Then she consents, tells 
of the magic given her by Durvasas, and asks which god she shall 
now call up.2 He names Dharma, the god of right and 

^ K., i, 135.24 fF. makes the penitents in the foreft there say that 
they it was who had shown Pandu that he muil not yet go of his own 
will into heaven, but muft firft win the worlds of bliss through 
offspring ; therefore he muft win over Dharma, Vayu, Indra, and the 
A^vins to beget him sons. This is, of course, a late interpolation. 
Cp. B, i, 120.23 ff. 

2 According to K. (i, 129.1 ff.) Kunti leaves him a second choice 
open : " Or let me have a Brahman, if thou so please, perfefted in 
all excellences, rejoicing in the weal of all beings. Whatever thou 
sayert, god or Brahman — as thou bidde^, so will I do. From a god 
the fruit of a son comes forthwith, from a Brahman after a time." 
This, too, of course is a tendentious insertion. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

virtue, for then of a surety, he thinks, no ^ain will lie on the 
matter, and a pious son will be his. She offered up the bali 
gift, and murmured her cabbaliftic prayer. Then came the 
god in a heavenly chariot shining as the sun, and laughingly 
spoke : " Kuntl, what shall I give thee ? " She answered, 
though he laughed at her : " Give me a son." He united with 
her in a shape formed by his magic powers, and so she received 
that ^'udhishthira, the friend to all beings. When he had 
been born, Pandu spoke : " It is said that what is greate^ 
in the Kshattriya is ^rength, therefore do thou choose for 
thyself a son marked out by his ^rength." So she called the 
god of the wind. And to his question she answered with a shame- 
faced laugh : " Grant me a son, a ^rong, a great one, a shatterer 
of the pride of all ! " So came the warrior-giant, the man 
of might, BhTma or Bhimasena to life, who dired:ly after birth 
fell from his mother's lap onto a rock, and crushed it with 
his limbs. Indra was to beget her the third son, that he might 
become an all-powerful hero and overcomer of foes, like the 
king of the gods himself ; and so her husband taught her a 
^ri6t way of mortification, which she had to carry out for a 
whole year, and he, too, gave himself up, for the same end, to 
mo^ fervent devotion and asceticism, landing on one leg. 
And this yielded fruit. Indra appeared to Pandu and promised 
to fulfil his wish ; Kuntl now brought up the prince of heaven 
by magic, and he begat Arjuna with her. The happy father, 
for whom others, immortals too, themselves so willingly 
brought the fine^ boys into the world, was now really caught 
up in a wave of enthusiasm and in a Wronger yearning after 
sons ; so he wanted ^ill more of Kuntl. But she repulsed him 
angrily : " More than three sons are not granted even in 
misfortune. If there were another the wife would become 
one that is unbridled (svairini), and with a fifth she would be a 
worthless woman (bandhaki). How can^ thou, a wise man, 
who ha^ learned this law, now go beyond it and ask me for 
offspring ? " Then came Pandu's second wife, MadrT, and 
said to him : " I am not sorrowed that thou art not a proper 
man, nor that I am ever set behind her that is worthy of thy 
favour (Kuntl). But this is my great sorrow, that I, though 
we are equal (both thy wives) have no son." As she herself 


Life in Marriage 

cannot ask her rival, through her angry pride towards her, 
Pandu, she says, muil beg her to get offspring for her (Madrl), 
too. He then exhorted KuntI to do this, and she said to her 
fellow-wife ^ : " Think only once of the divinity. He will 
grant thee the gift of fitting offspring." Madrl called up the 
two Agvins, and so got the twins Nakula and Sahadeva. Of 
the father thus blessed the pious and noble Vidura (i, 127.4) 
then said that he was not to be pitied, but to be praised. 

The niyoga in the narrower meaning, the levirate, on the 
other hand is represented by the well-known begetting of 
Pandu himself, and of Dhritarashtra (i, 103 ff.). After King 
Vicitravlrya has died childless, his mother SatyavatI comes to 
her husband's son, to Bhishma, and says that, as the only 
shield of his family and its earthly and heavenly welfare, and 
as one that knows and carefully follows the law and the truth, 
he mu^ in agreement with these both, and at their behe^ 
(niyoga) beget offspring for his dead brother with the two young 
and beautiful wives of the dead man. Bhishma now sees that 
this is dharma, but he reminds her that for her sake, so that 
his father might marry her, he has sworn never to touch a 
woman ; and the sun can lose its light, and the host of the 
elements their properties, but he cannot be faithless to the truth 
and his word. He tells her now how the whole Kshattriya 
cafte was after its utter de^ru6lion called back again to life 
through the union of the Kshattriya women with the Brahmans, 
how Brihaspati, Utathya's brother, lay with his si^er-in-law, 
and how the fruit of her body, Dirghatamas, born blind through 
the holy man's curse, had been appointed royal purveyor of 
children to the court in the house of Bali ; and he puts it to 
her that in this case, too, a Brahman should be hired. But she 
then tells him, in laughing confusion and halting words, of her 
youthful adventure with the penitent Paragara, and the result 
of this affair, the famous Vyasa. So soon as she thinks of him, 
he will come, she says. He it is that, appointed by her (niyukta), 
shall see to the matter. Bhishma is satisfied with this ; she tells 
the Yogi, who at once appears, as follows ; " To the father 

^ Read ukta (gl. 15). Inftead of " once only" perhaps better: 
once for all, constantly, fixedly (sakrit) ? But KuntI only grants her 
rival one son, at leaft at fir^. So that " once " might be very deliberate. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

and the mother children are born as common property. Juft 
as the father is lord over them, so is the mother. As thou by 
the hand of fate art my fir^ son,^ so Vicitravlrya was my child 
born after thee. As Bhishma on the father's side, thou art 
Vicitravirya's brother on the mother's side." Bhishma, she 
says, cannot undertake the business after his oath, so Vyasa, 
out of regard for his brother, and to carry on the line shall raise 
up children by the young and lovely v^^ives at Bhishma's spoken 
v^^ord, and at her bidding ; and he has the power to do it. 
The penitent consents, but makes it a condition that the 
two widows muft fir^ for a year keep a vow of mortification 
to be drawn up by him,^ so as to be cleansed, for otherwise a 
woman may not draw nigh to him ; also they mu^ take his 
personal qualities as part of the bargain. Splendidly decked, 
and having bathed on the fourth day after the monthly cleansing, 
the elde^ firil awaits the appointed — but to her wrapped in 
my^ery — father of her future child. Now the smell of 
holiness is not to everyone's liking, particularly in Old India, 
where penitents look on dirt and piety as inseparable ; more- 
over Vyasa after the Rishi kind has red hair, and with it flaming 
eyes and a red-brown mou^ache, and other ugly qualities. 
So she shuts her eyes at the sight of him. As a result her son 
shall, according to the inspired man's words, be born blind. 
The mother SatyavatI wails : " A blind man cannot rule ; 
beget another." He agrees. But the second wife becomes 
quite wan (pandu) when the visitor appears by night. So she 
bears a pale son, Pandu. SatyavatI now wants a third grandson, 
and therefore once more charges Vyasa and the elde^ daughter- 
in-law. The latter, however, thinks of the evil smell and the 
ugliness of the Rishi, and sends in her own ^ead a splendidly 
adorned slave-girl. With this latter the ascetic then helps 
to bring Vidura into being. Cp. v, 147.17-47, 

The- bringing in of this son of an unmarried girl, who never 
lived in the family of his mother's husband, does not seem 
after all to have been in such a very near correspondence with 

^ Read sa tvarn in^ead of satyam. 

^ It is the vow to keep always quite faithful to the truth — a spite- 
fulness which is not only very ungallant, but is only at all possible 
for a woman-hater. 


Life in Marriage 

the laws of the levirate, although as a Brahman he mu^ have 
been moreover especially w^ell fitted for his part. For King 
^i^upala makes the reproach to Bhishma : " Why didft thou, 
an it please thee, ^eal the maiden named Amba, that loved 
another, and knew the law ? In that thy brother Vicitravlrya 
would not have this maiden that had been robbed by thee, he 
walked the way of the good. And with his two wives children 
have been begotten by another, through a proceeding which 
good men do not follow, and thou, smug in thy wisdom, do^ 
calmly look on." He then goes on to sugge^ that this love 
service should have fallen to Bhishma's lot. These words, it 
is true, are found in the bitter speech, so heartening and refresh- 
ing in itself, again^ the worthless and profligate up^art Krishna, 
and Bhishma, who has sung such burning praises of Krishna, 
has to come in for his share here. There may be, however, 
a finger-poft to be read by us here (ii, 41.24 ff.).i Moreover 

1 The tale in its form to-dav has been naturally much changed. Atfir^ 
Bhishma evidently really did fulfil his brotherly duty, and became the 
father of Pandu and Dhritarashtra. See xi, 23.24. That has already 
been shown by Ludwig, and Holtzmann after him {Das Mahabh. 
u. seine Telle, i, i 54 ff. ; ii, 172 ; iv, 193). Then Vyasa was brought 
in, perhaps not only through Brahmanic pride, but because, too, the 
tale of Bhishma's vow of charity now ^ood in the way ; for the 
reverse relation of the ages for the two tales is less likely. But it is 
only to his Brahmanhood that Vyasa owed this honour, not to his 
threadbare-thin authorization as a kinsman. This can clearly be seen 
from Pandu's own words in i, 120.22, 23, and juft as clearly from his 
speech to Kunti, if we compare 122.23, 24 with 122.2 1,22 and 121.35- 
41. So, too, our tale itself shows that it is as a Brahman that Vyasa 
istocomein. According to i, 2.1 01 it was also a varadana. But in the 
end offence was perhaps taken to this " singing the praises " of the 
" gods of the earth ", and " gods of the gods ", remarkable as that might 
seem, if the alteration here sprang from a Brahmanic source. Arjuna, 
nearly always so correal: from the prie^ly ftandpoint, indeed calls out 
very angrily : " What grounds had King Kalmashapada, then, in his 
thoughts for assigning (samniyojita) his wife to his teacher, the heSt 
of the Brahma-knowers } Why did the high-minded Vasishtha, who 
yet knows the higheft holy law, the great Rishi, thus lie with her that 
for him was not for lying with .? It is unlawful what Vasishtha did 
in former days " (i, 182.1 ff.). Then recourse was had to the levirate 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

the levirate is at leaft well enough known to the heroes of the 
Mahabh. for them to use it in comparisons. So in xiii, 8.22 : 
" As the woman when her husband dies makes the brother-in- 
law ^ her husband, so the earth makes the Kshattriya her 

of the Smriti, and now a " brother-in-law ", of course, had to be 
brought in (Gautama, xxviii, 23 ; cp. Manu, ix, 144). 

^ Or : a proxy in begetting (devara) ? From the kurute patim 
it is hardly to be concluded that a real marriage is referred to. I 
myself can juft as little get this for Bhishma out of daramg ca kuru 
dharmena (i, 103. 1 1). True, it seems as though xiii, 44.52-53 at 
leaft in the firft place allots the widow, too, to the brother-in-law 
(the brothers-in-law .'') as the regular wife. Note too, the angry words 
of Sita later on aimed at Lakshmana. According to Yule's Marco 
Polo, ii, 376, all Indians even have had the cuftom of marrying the 
brother's widow ! In many parts of India it is moreover ftill a very 
usual cuftom to-day for the younger brother to take the widow of 
his brother to wife. Crooke, The North-Weflern Provinces, p. 229. 
Brihaspati refers to it as a usage of the people of Kha^a that the brother 
marries his brother's widow (ii, 31), and in this passage he finds this 
quite in order there ; on the other hand in xxvii, 20 he calls it a very 
reprehensible pradice of" other lands " that the brother lives with the 
brother's widow. It is open to queftion whether he is here speaking 
of the Indian area ; and the Kha^as were held at leaft for degenerated, 
which, it is true, means little for us. As is well known, the law writings 
only deal with the narrower niyoga, that is to say, the brother or some 
other near kinsman, usually sapinda or sagotra (in Gautama, xvii, 5, 
even pindagotrarishisambandhas or yonimatra) of the dead man 
and the widow are solemnly entrufted with the begetting of offspring 
for the dead man, one or even two sons, but not more ; and two are 
allowed only by Manu and Gautama. Apart from the relations 
needful for this the two muft be to one another as father-in-law and 
daughter-in-law. Even during the embrace all passion muft be 
moft ^ridUy kept away. ^ This is very Wrongly Pressed by several 
law-givers. According to Vasishtha the widow muft firft lead a life 
of mortification for half a year, then come in her ritu to him 
appointed for begetting (this laft detail is also given by others) ; but 
according to Baudhayana a whole year (but he mentions the half, 
too, sts Maudgalya's opinion). Such a son is then called kshetraja ; 
and for the mort part the word is used only in this narrower meaning. 
On the other hand the expression is in Para^ara, iv, 22, probably like 
datta and kritrima a coUeftive concept, and then denotes any fruit 
that has grown up on the husband's " field ", that is, also the kanina, 


Life in Marriage 

husband, when she does not get the Brahman." Cp. xii, 

Our attention is aroused by the fadl that it is almo^ only 
the Brahmans in these tales that are used as ^ud-bulls, and then 
as those of the warriors. It is juft this that ca^s suspicion on 
the matter so soon as we ask how much ground, indeed, there 
may have been for such ^atements in reality, even if it is 
only in more ancient times. This, indeed, is true : in later times 
in India, too, as so often in many other places, the prie^ is 
found as the lawful third in the alliance, and Old Indian 
literature often bears witness to the belief that especially the 
son begotten by an ascetic grows to excel others in capacity ; 
thus it is that in the pious legends also of the non-Brahmanic 
se6ls the monks and holy men often get into traits through 

sahodha, gudhaja (and paunarbhava). Manu firft allows and describes 
the niyoga, and then absolutely forbids it. Brihaspati finds the explana- 
tion in its not being fitting in this present evil age. Cp. Buhler's 
Manu, p. xciv, and Brihaspati, xxiv, 14. On the levirate son begotten 
in the prescribed way there refts no ^ain, but such a ^ain there is if 
the matter has not been rightly carried out. Gautama in xxviii, 23 
declares that where the widow has ftill a brother-in-law, her son called 
into life by another man cannot inherit. Narada, xii, 48, indeed, applies 
to the woman who is given by her kinsfolk to a sapinda, there being 
no brother-in-law, the abusive term " married again ". The main 
passages dealing with the niyoga, especially of the widow, are : 
Manu, ix, 58 ff. ; 143 fF. ; Baudh., ii, 2, 4.7 fF. (= ii, 2.60 ff.) ; 
Gautama, xviii, 4 ff. ; Yajnav., i, 68 f . ; Brihaspati, xxiv, 12; 
Vas., xvii, 55 ff. ; Narada, xii, 80 ff. (cp. 48, 50). The two la^- 
named law teachers, especially Narada, are very detailed and charac- 
teriftic. Yajnav., i, 68 f, probably has reference to the niyoga of 
the widow as the commentators underhand it. If we take the words, 
it is true that the husband might be ftill alive, and even be what is 
meant by guru. Moreover, the same law teacher says that the kshetraja 
has been begotten with a sagotra (a kinsman bearing the same family- 
name) or " another man " (ii, 128). The addition of" man " would 
probably be more natural than the " kinsman " of the commentators. 
On the other hand Yajnav. condemns him that goes to the brother's 
wife without an injunftion as Wrongly as the other law-givers. Cp. 
especially Kautilya (transl.), Index under " Vikariatszeugung ". 
[From Melanesia for indireft reference to the Levirate idea cp. 
G. C. Wheeler, Mono-Alu Folklore, p. 41 (Translator).] 

G« 169 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

women wishful to be made fruitful.^ Then the begetting by 
proxy with the husband's authorization is to be found for Old 
India in general in the other narrative literature also,^ it has 

^ See e.g. Ayarangasutta, ii, i, § 12. 

2 J have referred in my Da^akum., p. 54, to a very dra^ic case 
from the Jataka. Accoj-ding to Manu, ix, 59 the " commissioning " 
can or muft take place wherever there is no offspring, that is, probably, 
even if the husband is ^ill alive. But only the kinsman is there named 
as one qualified. The reft of the law and Purana literature also contains 
highly inftruftive ftatements on begetting by proxy in the husband's 
life-time. According to Apaft., ii, 10, 27.2 ff., the cuftom of giving 
up the wife to a man of the clan (gentilis) to get a son, not to speak 
of another man, is forbidden in this age of Kali ; a union with the 
clan-fellow is now looked on as adultery, both husband and wife alike 
then go to hell ; there is a better reward given in the world beyond 
for keeping the law than for offspring so begotten. This passage is 
enough to show that in such cases of need, at leaft at firft and in many 
places, the help of a clansman or member of the family was asked, 
as is indeed quite natural. " For they say that the bride is given to the 
family," that is, the whole family has a right to hope that from her 
an upholder of the line will come ; and if the husband is unsuccessful 
then he calls for the help of those so nearly concerned. But why 
should the express charge be needful at all, if the wife anyhow were 
at the disposal of all the members of the family } There is therefore 
here no trace of such a handing over of the bride to the whole family 
or, indeed, to the gens ; just as there is nothing of the kind to be deduced 
for India from Brihaspati's ftatement that in " other lands " there 
is found the highly reprehensible cuftom of marrying the girl to the 
whole family. Indeed, Brishaspati himself direftly afterwards names 
the Persians as evil sinners, who unite even with their mother (xxviii, 20- 
21). Gautama, xviii, 1 1 ff., gives rules as to whom the child belongs to, 
if the husband himself has given his wife over to another man to raise 
up children. So Baudhayana, ii, 2, 3.17 ff. speaks of the son of a man 
who cannot beget or of an incurably sick man, that had been ordered 
from another. Yajnavalkya, ii, 127 says : " If a sonless man through 
niyoga (commissioning) begets a son on another's field, this son is 
the heir and giver of the forefathers' cake to both men." Para^ara, 
xii, 58 ff. lays it down that : " If by leave of the owner of the field 
(the husband) seed is sown in his field, then the offspring is looked on 
as the property of both, the seed-giver and the owner of the field. . . . 
But the offspring does not belong to the man that unites in another 
man's house with a woman ; this is looked on by the learned as adultery 


Life in Marriage 

always been in exigence in various lands, and, be it noted, in 
princely families, and even to-day it has not yet died out.^ 
But the Mahabh. in its present shape is so deeply concerned 
with the crazie^ glorification of the Brahman, that we shall 
hardly go wrong, if in the legends in the Epic of this prie^ly 
adlivity as proxies we see little else but partisan sugge^ion.^ 
Furthermore, by the Brahmanic mind, as it is reflefted in Smriti 
and other later literature, begetting by proxy, whether in the 
life-time or after the death of the husband, was looked on 
generally as wrongful. The teaching there is ever : Quod 
licet jovi non licet bovi ; what the gods and the holy men 
of the pure early times have done is right for them, but for us 
ordinary mortals of another age, namely, the evil age of Kali, 
it is forbidden ; indeed, as has been already mentioned, neither 
in the Mahabh. nor elsewhere is blame wanting for those only 
so-called models of virtue. 

except when the wife herself has come into the house (of the Grange 
man)." From this it will be seen that : if the child is to be looked 
on as the husband's child, then it muft be begotten in the husband's 
house ; but if the outsider begets it in his own house, then he has his 
own, natural, absolute, right to the fruit of the union — a view very 
easily underwood. Cf. Kautilya (transl.), 260.1-18, and especially the 
addition to it. 

^ See, for inftance, Kautilya (transl.), 43.4 ff. ; Brantome, CEuvr. 
compl. ed. du Pantheon lit., ii, 243b. In his view the wives, however, 
muft not reckon on such politeness in their husbands as is shown by 
many, who themselves invite gallants to their wives, and charge the 
lovers to treat the beloved one well (p. 250 f.), but those fair ones who 
are burdened with an ugly, ^upid, pitiful Jiusband rnusT: have children 
made for themselves by dapper, proper serviteurs — pour F amour de 
leur lignee (262 ff.). Cp., too, Henne am Rhyn, Die Frau in der 
Kulturgesch., p. 1 1 3 (among the Spartiatae the lover could even demand 
of the husband to share in the wife). 

^ In German : Tendenzfiktion (tendentious fidion). Further, 
Vishnu, XV, 3 also says that the kshetraja is begotten by a sapinda 
or a Brahman (uttamavarna) (it is not said whether the husband is 
^ill alive). That a ripe (but not yet married) maiden should without 
hesitation let children be begotten to her by an excelling Brahman 
(or : by a Brahman as being the mo^ excellent of men) Devayani 
finds quite in order (i, 83.1-8). She is a Brahman woman, and the 
girl in que^ion a Kshattriya. Cp. Malory's Morte d' Arthur, iii, 3. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

In itself, it is true, such a service of love found no hindrance 
from the law, even when the husband was alive, if the husband 
authorized or invited his wife. The view that is always 
Pressed in Indian literature is this : The wife is the husband's 
field (kshctra) ; that which grows on his field belongs to him, 
no matter who has sown it (cp. for in^ance Manu, ix, 32-55). 
And the owner can himself till his ground, or have it tilled by 
another ; the fruit is always his.^ 

^ Perhaps few so true and fruitful sentences — always presuming 
that our modern scientific method is juftified — are to be found in the 
literature of the subjeft as this one in Starcke, Primitive Family 
(1889), p. 241 : "We muft therefore regard marriage as a legal 
in^itution, and the sexual intercourse between husband and wife as 
only one of the matters with which this inftitution has to do ; it is 
by no means its central point and raison d'etre^ Cp. p. 25 5 f., where, 
however, the view that the man is afraid of losing his wife, if she have 
intercourse with another man without his consent, is a very extra- 
ordinary one. The words on p. 260 there are juft as excellently said : 
" Marriage is sharply di^inguished from the mere relations of passion 
. . . His (the husband's) ownership (of the children) does not depend 
on the fa6i: they were begotten by him, but upon the fa£l: that he owns 
and supports their mother" (cp. p. 106). As a matter of fa£l 
" supports " should here be deleted ; for among savages it is so often 
far rather the duty of the wife to support the man ; indeed, the main 
reason for his marrying is this, that he wants a beaft of burden. 
Jealousy in our meaning primitive man does not know, or only very 
seldom indeed, or, anyhow, not where his mate is concerned. It is 
only the unauthorized use of his property that angers him. Not any 
Tom, Dick, and Harry may use his tools without more ado, ride his 
horse, and so on. But to the owner belongs whatever his field — the 
wife — brings forth, as, for inftance, the Auftralians, celebrated though 
they are as a mother-right people, also hold (Finck, 175, after Cunow, 
Die Veriuandtschaftsverhdltn. d. AuRralneger \ cp. Henne am Rhyn, 
pp. 16-17 > Starcke, 284 (Amerinds) ; Osman Bey, Die Frau in der 
TUrkei, p. 7 (Mohammed) ). 

It is true we have reports from by no means few mother-right 
peoples and tribes that among them the husband has nothing whatever 
to say about the children. But such exceptions, even if they be very 
many, cannot upset the general rule. A matriarchate because of the 
fatherhood being uncertain is an utterly ungrounded hypothesis 
(except perhaps for certain very clearly determined cases). How 


Life in Marriage 

little heed was given even by our forefathers, who ftood so high in 
sexual matters, the Old Germans, to the queftion whether they 
were actually the father to their children, is shown in detail by 
Dargun, Mutterrecht u. Raubehe, in the third chapter ; and on p. 45 
he gives a valuable passage (which, indeed, sounds rather like a 
witticism) from the We^phahan peasant laws, according to which 
the man who was not able to satisfy his amorous wedded wife had to 
take her himself to another one. Cf. Grimm, Deutsche Rechtsalter- 
tiimer, ed. by Heusler and Hiibner, 1899, vol. i, p. 613 ff. " Of the 
Arabs we are told there is a form of marriage according to which a 
man says to his wife when men^ruation is over, Send a message to 
such an one, and beg him to have intercourse with you.' And he 
himself refrains from intercourse with her until it is manife^ that she 
is with child by the man in question. The husband afts this way in 
order that his oifspring may be noble." Starcke, Prim. Fam., 
pp. I 23-1 24. Also the Chukchi in Siberia get their wives to be made 
pregnant by others ; and it is reported of certain Koryaks that they 
were wont to get the Russian poflman as a ^ud-bull (Hartland, ii, 
181). Childless Bantu bring their brother to their wife ; and among 
the Wakamba in Africa rich men who have no offspring give one of 
their wives to a friend, that there may be offspring (Hartland, ii, 
214, 196). The beft-known case is Sparta, where a law ordered the 
elderly owner of a young wife to mate a young and lu^y likely father 
with her (Hartland, i, 322 ; ii, 134). On this and on begetting by 
proxy among the Greeks in general, and' among others of the older 
peoples, cp. Engels, Unprung d. Familie, 49 ; Henne am Rhyn, 
Die Frau in der Kulturgesch., 193 fF. ; Starcke, loc. cit., 124; 
O. Schrader, Die Indogermanen, p. 93 ; Ed. Meyer, Gesch. 
d. Altertums, i, i^, pp. 28-30, and what is there said. It is on very 
good grounds that Hartland can say that the examples are 
" innumerable " where the husband, to get children, brings in 
another man in his ftead (ii, 247). — Now proper men above all others 
are the prieft, the chief, the ruler. Above and beyond this, as already 
said, he confers an honour on the commonalty thereby. So among the 
Eskimos a man and his wife look on themselves as lucky when a 
shaman takes pity in this way on the family. They believe that the 
son of a holy man with such power over the spirits will outftrip other 
mortals in excellence and good fortune. The Greenlanders even paid 
the Angekoks for such services (Starcke, 123 ; Weftermarck ^, 80; 
Hartland, ii, 141 ; Elsie Clews Parsons, The Old-Fashioned Woman, 
p. 87 ; Miiller-Lyer, Phasen der Lieie, p. 2 2 f.). And from the woman, 
who is almoft everywhere in the world unclean and a bringer of 
deftru6lion, and her husband, set into danger by her, spirits and evil 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

It is to this view that a good proportion of the twelve kinds 
of sons enumerated in the law books owes its being. They are 
also named in the Mahabh., i, 120.32-34, and the account 
given here, too, has a singularly mild tone towards the " pretty 
sins " of the woman, and differs considerably from the account 
in the law writings. As bandhudayada, that is, as sons who 
are kinsmen (belong to the family) and are entitled to inherit, 
are named : i^, svayarnjata (one begotten by the husband 
himself, aurasa) ; 2nd, pranlta (brought by the wife to the 
husband, and, as the commentary declares in agreement with 
^1. 35-36, begotten by the free grace of a better man) ; 3rd, 
parikrita (bought, according to Nil. begotten with the wife by 
another, who has been paid for the seed ; which in view of 
I, 105.2 is certainly right) ; 4th, paunarbhava (the son of a re- 
married woman) ^ ; 5th, kanlna (unmarried woman's child) ; 6th, 

influences are warded off by the prie^ as a partner in the bed or fellow 
in wedlock. In this, therefore, the Brahmans do but ftand in a row 
with others of their stamp. Holtzmann quotes {Mahabh. u. seine Telle, 
i, 155) the teftimony of Graul that even " to-day" ihe women in 
Malayala, all and each, are accessible to the pleasure of the unmarried 
Brahmans, and that this does not in any way degrade them, but rather 
it is looked on as an honour. In Dubois-Beauchamp ^, p. 117, we 
can read that when the Gurus or spiritual fathers of the Qivaites come 
to a place, the people vie with one another to see who shall lodge them. 
Those who are thus sought after decide on a house — and as a matter of 
faft it is said of them that in this they make their choice according to 
the youthfulness and good looks of the women living there — then all 
the men leave the field open and keep away so long as their reverences 
are pleased to tarry amid this delightful band. So, too, the leaders of 
the Vishnuite Vallabhacaryas claim absolute power over the female 
part of their flock (Crooke, The North- PFeflem Provinces of India, 
p. 250). On niyoga and the begetting of Dhritarashtra and Pandu, 
see further Winternitz, JRAS, 1897, p. 716 ff. 

1 Paunarbhava is the son of a punarbhu (re-married woman). 
According to Baudh., ii, 2, 3.27 punarbhu is a woman that has left 
an impotent husband and taken another ; according to Vasishtha, 
xvii, ig f. she is one whose former husband is impotent, expelled from 
his cafle, mad, or dead, and who has married another man, or else 
one that has left the husband of her youth, Hnked herself with another, 
and then has come back again into her husband's house. According to 

Life in Marriage 

svairinyam yaq: ca jayate (conceived by the woman in adultery, 
that is = kunda, gudhotpanna, gudhaja). The six sons that can 
inherit but do not belong to the family are called ; i^, datta 
(" given away by father and mother," as Nil. says, but here 
also probably as a small child, that is, adoptatto) ; 2nd, krita 
(bought from the parents) ; 3rd, kritrima, " and (therefore) 
he that himself goes thither," that is, the svayamdatta, while 
kritrima or krita is otherwise the son that is taken over as a 
grown up ; 4th, sahodha (with whom the mother was at the 
wedding already pregnant by another man) ; 5th, jnatiretas 
(" seed of kinsman," that is, begotten in the levirate) ; 6th, 
hinayonidhrita (begotten of a woman from a low ca^e, that is, 
especially the " (^udra son ".^ 

A lift that partly differs is given in xiii, 49. Yudhishthira 
says : " We hear of many disputes that arise out of the que^ion 
of the sons. Do thou solve the doubt for us, who are 
bewildered." Bhishma now fir^ of all sets forth nine kinds of 
sons : i^, atman (the one begotten by himself, and therefore 
the son belonging to the begetter himself) ; 2nd, anantaraja 
(begotten by the next of kin to the husband, that is, in the 

Vishnu, XV, 7 ff. she is one that has been married for the second time 
as a virgin, or that has lived with another man before her marriage at 
law ; according to Manu, ix, 175 she is one whose husband has left 
her, or is dead, and who has married again. Yajnavalkya, i, 67 says: 
one that is, or is not harmed in her maidenhead, and that lets herself be 
" dedicated " for the second time (cp. Manu, ix, 176). According to 
Narada, xii, 45 ff., there are three kinds of punarbhu, of which each 
is worse than the one following : (i) the girl that has not, indeed, 
loft her maidenhead, but has loft her honour through an earlier taking 
by the hand ; (2) a woman that has run off from the husband of her 
youth, and gone to another, but has afterwards come back to the firft 
husband ; (3) a woman that is given to a sapinda of the same cafte, 
because there are nc brothers-in-law. Elsewhere there are also other 
interpretations of the term. 

^ Pradlically this is the moft natural interpretation. It also agrees 
with the comment. Philologically more exaft would be : 3rd, kritrima 
(the son taken over as a grown up) ; 4th, he that comes of his own 
accord ; 5 th, he with whom a kinsman had already impregnated the 
mother before the wedding. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

levirate) ^ ; 3rd, niruktaja (begotten by one expressly named, 
that is, by one that has been asked to fertiHze, and that probably 
by the husband) ; 4th, prasritaja (" begotten by one that has 
come ", that is, according to Nil., by another man from sexual 
appetite, who has not been asked to do it, that is, the gudhaja) ; 
5th, the son, begotten with the man's own wife, of one that has 
been expelled from his cafte (?) ^ ; 6th, datta ; 7th, krita ; 
8th, adhyudha (added by marriage = sahodha or acquired 
by marriage) ; 9th, kanlna. After this come the twelve other 
kinds of sons which are found as the result of a quite different 
principle, namely : the six apadhvarnsaja (three sons of the 
Brahman with Kshattriya, Vai^ya, and Qudra ; two sons of 
the Kshattriya with Vai9ya and ^udra ; one son of the Vai^ya 
with (^udra), and the six apasada (three sons of (^udra with a 
Brahman woman, Kshattriya, Vai(;ya, that is, the candala, 
vratya, vaidya ; two sons of the Vai^ya from a Brahman 
woman and a Kshattriya, that is, the magadha and the vamaka ; 
and one son of the Kshattriya from a Brahman woman, namely 
the suta). Then Yudhishthira asks : " Some say that a son 
is the produdl: of the field, others that he is the produdl of the 
seed. The same is true of both : that they are sons. But 
whose ? Tell me that." Bhishma spoke : " He that is 
begotten of the (husband's own) seed is his son, and he that has 

1 According to Nil. " direftly begotten," for he paraphrases by 
aurasa " bodily ", that is, takes atma in another meaning. We should 
then have only eight kinds. 

2 Patitasya tu bharyaya bhartra susamavetaya. In this barbaric 
conftruftion we mu^ probably firft change bharyaya to bharyaya. 
But the wife of a patita is not bhartra susamaveta. I would therefore 
put bharyayabhartra : " The son of a man expelled from his ca^e 
(being) by his wife, who had equipped herself probably with another 
man not her husband." But since bhartar here, like pati and daras 
in the above-quoted verses, perhaps simply means a proxy-husband, 
one would get with bhartra, too, essentially the same meaning : " who 
had probably provided herself with a (proxy-)husband." The patita 
is an outlaw, a dead man ; and juft as the younger brother of such a 
one may marry before him without fear, so the wife of the expelled 
man may unite sexually with another man, and the child is then looked 
on as her a£tual husband's (probably if he is then rehabiHtated ; 
cp. K, xiii, 84.6). 


Life in Marriage 

grown up on his field, if he has been given up (by his real 
begetter), he that is ' added by marriage ', if the contrad is 
broken (samayarn bhittva)." He then explains this thus : 
" If a man begets a son from himself, and then on some ground 
gives him up, then the seed has nothing to say here, but he 
belongs to the lord of the field. If a man weds a maiden in his 
yearning for a son, for the sake of a son, then it is the growing 
up from his own field that decides, and he is not the son of his 
begetter. Moreover the son that has grown up on the field 
(anyatra lakshyate) betrays himself, for the self (of the begetter) 
(which shows itself again in the child) cannot be destroyed ; 
we come to it (come on its tracks) through the pattern (that is, 
we look at the father, and know by the likeness that he has 
again produced his self in a certain child)." ^ According to 
this it would therefore seem that the husband need only to 
recognize this child of his wife, already pregnant at marriage, 
if he knew of her being pregnant, and approved of it, or, indeed, 
adually chose the girl for that reason. ^ Anyatra generally 

^ Of this the Liburni were evidently fully convinced. They had 
a community of wives, and the children were brought up in common 
until they were five years old. Then they were called together by 
beating the drum, examined, and assigned to their fathers according to 
likeness (Starcke, p. 126, after Bachofen, Mutterrecht, p. 20). The 
same is reported from other ancient peoples. Hartland, ii, 131 ; Ed. 
Meyer, 24; Welhausen, Gott. Nachr. (1893), 462 f And that 
woman, of whom we are told in Kirchhof's Wendunmut (ed. Oe^erley, 
Stuttg. Lit. Ver.), i, p. 397 (No. 338), seems to have firmly believed 
this. She had much to do with the clergy, and once when she 
was lying in child-bed, a woman caller exclaimed : " The son looks 
exadWy like his father." The pious dove Parted up in fright : " Oh ! 
has he got a bald patch, too ? " On how ^rong the Indian behef is in 
the inheritance of character see J. J. Meyer, Altind. Rechtssckr., 

2 " So among the hill tribes of Northern Aracan sexual intercourse 
before marriage is unre^ri6led, ' and it is considered rather a good 
thing,' we are told, ' to marry a girl in the family-way, even though 
by another man.' " Hartland, i, 312. So also among the Wakamba 
(Hartland, ii, 196). Thus it is natural that it is the very girl who has 
already given birth who among several peoples is more sought after 
in the marriage market than her si^er, who has not been blessed with 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

means " in the other case " (and Bohtl. does not once give 
" moreover "). Taking all into account we muil so translate 
here too ; and the 9loka that begins with it would then all 
the more clearly leave the husband the right to assign to the 
begetter as revealed by nature the fruit of his wife's body, of 
which he had no knowledge at the wedding, and which he 
does not want. The kritaka or kritrima is then thus dra^ically 
defined : He that is put out on the ^reet by his parents, and then 
is taken to himself by a man (yas tarn prakalpayet), and whose 
parents are not known, this is the kritrima.^ His sonship is 
derived only from the taking over (sarngraha) by the adoptive 
parents, not from the " seed " nor from the " field ". This 
man who was once ma^erless belongs to his present ma^er, 
comes into the ca^e of him that rears him, mu^ be equipped by 
him like his own son with the sacraments of his caile and 
kindred, and may be chosen for kinship by marriage.^ Further 
on we find it said : " The son of an unmarried woman, and 
he that is added by marriage are to be looked on as sprung 
from sin (kilbisha), but the sacraments are to be carried out on 
them also, as on the sons of the body." 

A third passage where a li^ of the various sons is found is 
i, 74.99. Here according to the commentary — and the learned 
men of Europe follow it — five classes are named. But, so far 
as I can see, this view is hardly a possible one. The mo^ obvious 
translation would be : " Manu has made known the five 
sons born from a man's own wife, (then) the acquired, the 
bought, the reared, the ' made ' (krita) sons, that is, the (four) 
that have come into being in other women." The labdha 
could then include in himself the datta and the svayamdatta 
of Manu, whereby naturally I do not mean to say that we are 
to give weight to the constant appeal to the famous law-giver. 
The " reared " one might then perhaps be the apaviddha. 
Also the five by the man's own wife offer a difficulty. But as 

a proof of her fruitfulness, and that in many places, and in German- 
speaking diftrifts, too, the young man will hardly take a girl to his 
home who has not first become with child by him. 

^ The man here described is, as is well knowai, in the law books 
called apaviddha. 

2 Cp. in the MBh., the example of Karna. 


Life in Marriage 

the son of the " re-married woman " in the second lift of the 
Mahabh. has been ehminated, so here he may also have dropped 
out, and thus we should have the other five, as taught by Manu. 
Yet this rendering, which in itself is the moft natural one, is 
not without an element of ftrain ; therefore the ^loka is 
perhaps better underftood thus : " Those that came into 
being from a man's own wife (and) the five (kinds of) sons 
that have been acquired (that is, given), bought, reared, ' made,' 
and born of other women." That would then give twelve 
kinds, if Manu and Mahabh., xiv, 49 are brought in to explain, 
but fourteen if MBh., i, 120.32-34 is so brought in. K. has 
instead (i, 99.25-26) : " Those sprung from a man's own 
wife, those acquired, made, brought up under an agreement 
(samayavardhita), bought, and sprung from maidens — these 
Manu has declared to be sons. These are the six who are 
kinsmen and heirs (and) the six who are kinsmen, but not 
heirs." 1 

1 There is not complete agreement in the various law writings 
either as to the order of rank of the twelve kinds of sons, or as to the 
two divisions : (i) sons who belong to the family and have also the 
right to inherit ; (2) sons who only belong to the family, but have not 
the right to inherit. The category, " capable of inheriting, but not 
belonging to the family," moreover, is found only in the MBh. 
Here we give only one or two details which are perhaps of special 
importance for the subjedt of this book. All the law books put the 
kshetraja (the son begotten by a proxy) next after the son of the body ; 
only Yajnavalkya names before him and as fully equal to the 
aurasa the son of the inheriting daughter (putrika). While the son of 
the inheriting daughter according to the general view is the heir of 
his sonless grandfather, and also of his father, if this latter has no other 
son, but in return also takes over in both families the dut}' of the 
sacrificing to the forefathers, Gautama, xxviii, 32 throws him into the 
laft place but two in the second group. The gudhotpanna or he that is 
begotten in adultery is reckoned by all to group I, the sahodha (he 
that marriage brought in the bride's body) only in Narada (xiii, 45), 
while otherwise he generally takes the second place in category II, 
in Vasishtha, xvii, 26 and Vishnu, xv, i 5 the firft place, in Yajhav., ii, 
1 3 1 the laft place but one. The kanina or unmarried woman's son is among 
the firft and privileged set of six in all except Manu, ix, i6r, as also 
Gautama, xxviii, 33 and Baudhayana, ii, 2, 3.32 ; but these two 
agree here exaftly with Manu, only that Baudh. brackets the 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

putrikaputtra with the datta of Manu, and so gets thirteen classes, and 
Gautama handles the son of the heiress-daughter like a very cruel 
father in the way already mentioned. In these three the kanina is 
found at the head of group II, The paunarbhava is taken by 
Vasishtha, xvii, 13 ff., Yajnav., ii, 128 ff., Vishnu, xv, i ff., into I, 
while in Narada he ^ands in the firft place in 11, in Manu and his 
followers in the laft place but two. Yajnavalkya and Vishnu, it is 
true, do not expressly mention the two categories. All lay it down that 
if there are no sons really entitled to inherit, then the others muft 
come into the inheritance according to their rank. The greater 
number, that is, Vas., Nar., Yajn., and Vishnu in their six fir^ classes 
have only adual children of the mother, no matter who the father may 
be. Vas., xvii, 22, 23, and Yajn., ii, 129 (= Agnipur., 256.16) assert 
that the unmarried woman's son belongs to the girl's father, which sounds 
the more remarkable in that these two law teachers reckon the kanina 
among the very members of the husband's family who are entitled 
to inherit. Whether this prescription is only to hold when the mother 
does not marry is very much open to question. The meaning is rather 
as follows : If the father has no sons, then that son of his daughter, 
whom she has borne in his own house, is his natural heir. Cp. Narada, 
xii, 60 ; Meyer, Kautilya, p. 765 at foot. The usual doftrine is that 
the kanina like the sahodha belongs to him that takes the mother 
to his house. So, for inilance, Manu, ix, 172 f. ; Vishnu, xv, 12, 17. 
In faft the great queftion in dispute is found running, too, 
through the law books : What is it that decides, field or seed .? Manu, 
ix, 31 fF. and x, 70, declares that " the seed is more important ", and 
proves it without hesitation. But then it is shown, if possible itill 
more clearly, that the field is all in all (ix, 42 ff.). Vasishtha, xvii, 6 ff., 
does no more than give the for and againft ; Apaft., ii, 6, 13.6 f. and 
Baudhayana, ii, 2, 3.33 decide that the seed is the decisive thing 
(the son belongs to the begetter). Narada, xiii, 17, and Para^ara, iv, 
20 f. hold the opposite opinion ; for according to Para^ara not only 
the kunda (son of the adulteress) but also the golaka (widow's bastard) 
belongs to the husband, and Narada also names the kanina, 
sahodha, and gudhaja as son and heir of the husband. So also MBh. 
K, xiii, 84.9-12. Moreover Para^ara in iv, 22 gives only four 
classes of sons : aurasa, kshetraja, datta, kritrima. But all twelve 
can be brought under these. The Mahanirvanatantra teaches as to the 
kanina, golaka, and kunda that they are hke the atipatakin, cannot 
inherit, and do not bring uncleanness by their death, that they are 
therefore utter outsiders (xii, 82). Cp. Brihaspati, xxv, 41 ; Yajnav., 
i, 2 22ff. It is abatement often found that he that is sprung of a begetting 
by proxy muft — naturally in an emergency — bring the offering to 


Life in Marriage 

If thus the many kinds of sons whom the wife has gathered 
elsewhere have their fixed place, recognized by law, in the 
husband's family, it is probably due in the fir^ place to the 
Indian passion for systematizing and their worship of tradition, 
and respeft for the usage of different di^ridls. That which 
once had been ^ated as a principle was dragged on faithfully 
down through the centuries, nay through thousands of years. 
But on the other hand the life to-day of our civilized mankind 
also, for instance, would really offer without a doubt quite as 
much, if not, indeed, far more, foundation for suchlike codifying 
of the fruits of women's freedom in love. Xo speak only of 
one thing, it is no wonder that, in a land where sons — whether 
begotten by a man himself or not — meant so much, a man 
was often inclined ju^ to enjoy such fruits without letting 
himself be worried over the question of whence the life-bringing 
pollen might have been wafted for them. We are not to draw 
from this the conclusion of a remarkable lack of morals, not 
even for earlier times. The Epic, anyhow, gives no sure 
foundation whatever for such an assumption. It is true that in 
many regards the ethical feeling was ^ill raw and undeveloped; 
for it the woman, indeed, was usually only a chattel ; but of this 
we shall speak by and by. But is it truly any better among 
ourselves who have progressed so wonderfully ? 

Now there were, indeed, in the India of the Epic, too, 
people who did not wish for any children, and in the Mahabh. 
(xii, 331. 1 6, cp. 20) a^onishment finds expression at the strange 
way of the world, that they who wished not for children 
should get them, while to others who yearned for them with 
all their heart they were denied.^ But married folk undoubtedly 

the forefathers for both men, his begetter and the husband of his mother, 
and is heir to them both. Cp. also Caland, Ahnenkult, 28, 193 (how 
the son born out of wedlock takes the ance^ral gift away from his 
real father and beflows it on his father by law). See especially also 
J. J. Meyer, Kautilya, pp. 765-767; Altind. Rechtsschr., 224 f; 

315; 343- 

^ The passage is noteworthy in many ways. The poet wonders 
at the remarkable course of the world, whose tangled riddles are 
insoluble from the empirical ftandpoint, but can perhaps be explained 
by metaphysics. The sinner and the fool grow old in pleasure and 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

thriving, for the good man and the capable things go badly, and so 
on. " To the one man, who sits ^ill and does not ftir, happiness 
comes, the other runs along after toil, and does not reach that vhich 
is utterly beyond his grasp. Make it known unto me from man's 
own (empirical) nature wherein he makes his mi^ake. [Probably 
what is meant is : explain to me from his personality or nature, as 
determined by the karman ; cp. xii, 290.13; 301.24.] The seed 
that came into being at one place (in the man) goes over to another 
(into the woman). If it has been set into the womb, then a fruit of the 
body comes into being, or none ; we become aware that we vanish 
like the mango-blossom [liter., whose disappearance, that is like the 
mango-blossom, is perceived ; the blossom is lo^ and leaves a fruit 
behind it, or does not ; even so is it with the seed of man. Thus, 
if we read nivrittir in^ead of the nirvrittir often confused with it. 
If this latter is kept to, then the meaning is the same : " whose growth 
is perceived as like unto that of the mango-blossom "]. For some 
p'^rsons that yearn for the continuation of the line, and iinve to bring 
this about, no ovum comes into being, and to others who ^rt 
back from pregnancy as from an angry snake a luity boy is born. 
How then has he come into being, as though out of death .'' Poor 
fools that yearn for sons make sacrifices to the gods, undertake penances, 
and then shameful slurs for their family are born unto them, carried 
for ten months in the womb. Others are born into money and corn, 
and all kinds of things of delight gathered together by their fathers, 
have fallen to the share (of their parents) through these very happiness- 
bringing things (cp. iii, 209.11 ff.). The two having drawn nigh 
unto one another, a fruit of the body comes into the womb, like an 
intruding misfortune, at the union in the pleasure of love [perhaps : 
in jub^t as inexplicable wise. I read yonim, which is confirmed by K. 
But possibly the somewhat unusual yoni is older : " a bodily fruit of 
the womb comes into being "]. Doft thou see through what pains 
the fruit of the body lives, deposited by pure chance as an unconscious 
drop of seed in the womb, (the fruit) which (as a soul again 
embodied), separated (from its earlier abode) with other bodies, 
cut off from its earher source with the bearer of a body (that is, with 
a new being), birring in flesh and slime at (that is, after) the ending 
of its (earlier) life, is bound up with a (new) living person, after being 
burnt, indeed, in one body with another moving or unmoving body, 
and perishes when this (body) perishes in the end, like a little ship 
that is faftened to another one (cp. Meyer, Kautilya, addit. 56.47) ? 
[I read with K. ^Irnarn in^ead of gighram on purely ^liftic grounds, 
and take ^arlrinam, praninam, and paradeham as accusatives depending 
on ahitam ; of course 9aririnarn and praninam could also be referred 


Life in Marriage 

were at lea^ only very seldom in the fir^ set. And if married 
men and women were granted offspring, then they proved 
thankful, too, especially, of course, if it was male offspring. 
Juft as the Old Indian literature in general ^ands out through 
its pidlures of the tendered family life, so the Epic gives us, too, 
beautiful glimpses into this delightful world. We have a very 
sweet song on the happiness of family and children from the 
lips of a woman in the words of ^akuntala (i, 74). She fir^ 
paints a glowing pifture for King Dushyanta of the true wife 
and the blessing she brings ; then she goes on (9I. 53 ff.) : " When 
the son runs up to his father, covered with the earth's du^ 
(in which he has been playing), and clasps his limbs, what could 
there be more glorious than that ! . . . Not the touching of 
garments nor of beautiful women nor of water is to compare, 
is so pleasing as the touching of the son who is being clasped. 
The Brahman is be^ among the two-footed, the cow excels 
moft among the four-footed, the be^Tt among the revered 
is the teacher, the son is the faireft of all that men touch. . . . 
Yes, men, when they have gone into another village, (at their 
home-coming) joyfully welcome their children, taking them, 
lovingly onto their lap and smelling their heads. ^ And the 

to the accus. garbharn, but there is very much to be said againft this]. 
Why, in that very belly where food and drink, and the solid dishes 
that have been eaten are dissolved by the digeftion, is not the fruit 
of the body dissolved ju^ like the nourishment taken .'' [Cp. xii, 
253.11 ; Mark.-Pur., x, 5 ; Chavannes, Cinj cents contes, etc., iii, 
p. 124 ] The course of the urine and faeces in the body has been laid 
down by our very nature ; none here is a free agent, whether he wishes 
to withhold or to discharge. Sometimes also the fruits of the body 
come out of the belly before their time, being so born, and other 
times likewise they fall to deftrudion when they have to come into 
the world [or agame na written separately : " others on the contrary 
do not thus fall to de^ruftion at their coming into the world," that is, 
are happily born] ". All connefted with the origin of life is therefore 
a secret, throned in the darkness of nature. None has the power here 
to arrange things as he might wish them. 

^ In the Epic, too, this Eaftern, and especially Indian, sign of tender- 
ness is mentioned over and over again. In Ram., vii, 71.12 we read : 
" I will smell thee on the head ; that is the greate^ sign of tender 
love " (snehasya para gatih). Cp. Meyer, Kautilya, 1 1.26 ff. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

twice-born utter this set of sayings, which are in the Veda, 
at the birth ceremony for sons, and this is known to thee : 

Thou art begotten limb from limb, 
Thou art born from the heart, 
Thou art the self, that son is called ; 
Live thou a hundred autumns ! 

My life hangs from thine, 
On thee hangs the everlafting span of the race ; 
Therefore, mayeft thou, my son, in happiness high 
Live a hundred autumns long ! ^ 

From thy Hmbs this one (my son) came into being, from the 
man another man ; see, as in a clear lake, thy second self in the 
son. As the sacrificial fire (ahavanlya) is fetched from the 
fire of the mafter of the house (garhapatya), so did this one 
arise out of thee ; thou, that wa^ one, art become twofold." ^ 

The already mentioned Brahman who is to bring the cart- 
load of rice as tribute to the evil Rakshasa, and then be eaten 
together with the ^eers by the monfter, bewails his wife and 
children (i, 157.26 ff^.) : " Thou knoweft, O Brahman woman, 
once I did ^rive to go away elsewhere, where there is peace and 
plenty, but thou didft not hearken unto me. ' Here I was born 
and grew up, and my father likewise.' So did^ thou speak in 
thy foolishness, when more than once I besought thee. Thy 
old father has gone into heaven, and thy mother, too, long 
ago ; thy kinsfolk have been and are gone ; what joy ha^ 

^ See the Grihyasutras : Hirany., ii, i, 3.2; Gobhila, ii, 7, 21. 
A^val., i, 15, 3.9. Parask., i, 16, 18 ; 18, 2 ; Baudhayana's law book, 
ii, 2, 3.14. 

2 The Chriftian Fathers of the Church of the firft centuries disputed 
among themselves whether the soul had existed from all time (Pre- 
exiftants), or whether God made it at the begetting (Creationifts), 
or whether it came from the father, as one light is lit at another 
(Traduciani^s). Among the Indians neither the second nor the third of 
these doftrines was able to emerge. And yet they often show this very 
Traducianift comparison. Thus Kalidasa says in Raghuv., v, 37 : 
" It was the same mighty form (Aja's as his father Raghu's), the same 
natural majebT:y ; the boy differed not from his cause, hke a light that 
has been lit at the light." Of course that only refers to the origin of 
thebody. Cp. MBh.,xii, 210.26. 


Life in Marriage 

thou then in dweUing here ? Filled with loving yearning for 
thy family thou wa^, and since thou did^ not hearken to my 
words, thy family now perishes, which brings great sorrow on 
me, or I now lose my life. For I cannot yield up any of 
mine, remaining myself alive like one without pity. Thou ha^ 
carried out the holy duties with me, thou art kind, always to 
me as a mother, thou art the friend whom the gods have 
appointed unto me, always my sure^ refuge, robbed of father 
and mother,^ ever busied with household cares. Thee I did 
woo in prescribed fashion, and thee I then led round the fire 
with holy prayers. Thou come^ of good family, art endowed 
with virtuous ways, and ha^ borne me children. Thee, my good 
wife, who never doft hurt me, and art ever obedient to me, I 
could not yield up to save my own life. — How could I myself 
give up my daughter, a child, who has not yet come to the 
flower of youth, and whose form does not yet bear the marks 
of sex, who has been entrusted me by the high-souled Maker, 
like a pledge for her future husband. How could I for- 
sake her, from whom I together with my forefathers 
hope for the worlds made ready by the daughters' sons, her 
whom I myself begot ? Many there are who hold that the 
father's love for the son is the greater, others the love for the 
daughter ; for me both are alike.^ Even though I give myself 
up, I shall sufter torment in the other world too, for left behind 
by me, these (my family) it is evident, cannot live here. To 

^ I read vihinam in^ead of vihitam, which perhaps may have 
come from the preceding line of verse. It muft be said, however, 
that K. also has vihitam, and this is likewise clear, though not very 
good : Prepared, brought up, defined by father and mother (to be 
combined with what follows). 

2 According to Ram., i, 61.19 ^^^ father loves the eldeft, the mother 
the youngeft son, whish agrees with Jat., v, p. 327 ff. Of the great 
love of the Hindus for their children we have very plentiful evidence. 
Here we give one or two cases only : A. W. Stratton, Letters from India, 
Lond., 1908, p. 99, to be compared with Qrivara's Kathakautukam 
ed. R. Schmidt, iv, 86; Fuller, Studies of Indian Life, etc., 162; 
Dubois-Beauchamp, 307 f. (but according to the laft passage only a 
foolish fondness, which is very ill requited by the children, which 
^atement, if made universally, seems wholly groundless). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

yield up one of them is cruel and reprobated by the wise ones ; 
and if I give myself up, then without me they will die." See 
especially also xiv, 90.24 ff. 

Rama cries out (Ram., ii, 11 1.9- 10): "The way the 
father and mother deal con^antly by the child, what the father 
and mother do to it, it is very hard to requite them for ^ ; they 
give it whatever they can, they lull it to sleep, they rub its body 
with oil, they speak ever loving words to it, and rear it." Cp. 
MBh., xiii, I4.ii2ff. ; above all 132 f. 

Bitter, therefore, was the sorrow when death took a child 
with it. Such piftures are often drawn in Indian literature, 
but generally, it is true, with an emphatic stressing of the 
foolishness of such grief in a world where all is fleeting and 
mortal. Here the inconsolable mother, KisagotamI has won 
renown. An edifying legend, which was perhaps only later 
touched up to glorify ^iva, but is very beautiful, makes up the 
content of xii, 153 : 

The son of a Brahman, who had been gotten after much 
trouble, had died while ^ill a child with great eyes, seized 
by a demon of children's sickness. Filled with sorrow, his own 
took him, and bore him, that was all to his family, weeping and 
overcome by woe, out to the field of the dead. And as now with 
the dead darling on their arm they went along sobbing, they 
kept on telling one another everything he had said while he 
was ^ill alive (cp. iii, 298.8). Outside in the place of the 
dead they laid him down on the earth, but could not part 
themselves from him. Then a vulture heard them weeping, 
and came up and spoke : " Thousands of men, and thousands 
of women, have brought their kindred hither, and then gone 
back home. See how the whole world is ruled by pleasure and 
pain ! Union and separation fall to men in the wheel of change. 
Those who come here, indeed, with the dead, but go back 
without them,2 they themselves go hence with the fa^setmeasure 
of the length of their lives. No one was ever awakened again 
to life, when once he had fallen before the law of time, beloved 

1 Cp. Manu, ii, 227. 

2 After ye na add grihitva. K. reads more smoothly : ye 'nuyanti 
(152.10). Kalena in gl. 8 probably means; in the course of time. 
It might also = (brought hither) by fate, etc. 


Life in Marriage 

or hated — this is the lot of the living. The world ^ops from 
its daily task, the sun goes home, do ye, too, go back to your 
abode and let be your love for the child." When now the 
kindred, wailing in despair, for the child was indeed dead, were 
about to go forth, there came a jackal, black as a raven's 
wing, out of his cave and spoke to them : " Mankind knows 
no compassion. The sun is ^ill in the heavens. The fleeting 
infant can bring much ; perhaps the child will come back to 
life again. You have no love for the child, whose words once 
gladdened your hearts. But see what love the beafts and birds 
cherish for their young, and yet they have nothing to gain from 
having them. They, who are filled with loving attachment, 
and see their pleasure in their young, have not, as the Munis 
and they who carry out the business of sacrifice,^ when they 
go over into the other world any advantage either here on earth 
or in the life beyond, and yet they love and cherish their 
offspring. Look on him long with love. How could you go and 
leave him, that had such lively, great lotus-eyes, and whom you 
bathed like a newly wedded man, and decked out with every 
ornament ? " Then they all went back to the dead child. The 
vulture once again began : " Why do you bewail the dead child, 
who feels no longer, and why not yourselves ^ Leave sorrow 
and the dead one, and do good with all your ^rength. What a 
man does, be it pure or dreadful, that he does enjoy ; what 
have kinsfolk to do there ? " The jackal answered : " By 
manly deeds and untiringness men reach the goal and happiness. 
Whither then will ye go, and leave behind in the fore^ here 
him that came into being ^ through your own flesh, the body 
which is the half of your body, him that carries on the line for 
the forefathers ? " The vulture spoke : " I have now been 
living over a thousand years, and I have never yet seen one 
dead brought back to life. They die in the mother's womb, 
they die at once after birth, they die when they walk about,^ 

^ Muniyajnakriyam inftead of muniyajnakriyanam, with the 
genitive ending for consonantal ftems, in the Vedic way. 

2 Literally : " Came up here," at the begetting, of course. Boeht- 
lingk's reading is wrong. 

^ Of course : when they can walk (cankramantas). Cp. q\. 45 ; 
vi, 10.7. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

and others in the bloom of youth. Whether it be a moving or 
an unmoving being, its span of life is already laid down at the 
beginning. Torn away from the much-loved wife, filled with 
grief for the child, burning with sorrow, people are ever going 
from here (from the place of the dead) home. This love is 
useless, this wearing oneself out is fruitless. This one there sees 
not with his eyes, hears not with his ears ; he has become as a 
block of wood. The pain is doubled, if we dwell on the doings 
of the dead one, and call them up into memory." The jackal 
ran up and said : " There is no ending ^ for love, nor for wailing 
and weeping. If ye leave this dead one, sorrow is sure for you. 
As before now dead persons have come to life again, so too 
may a holy man, wise in magic, or a godhead take pity on you." 
At these words they came back to the dead body, laid its head 
on their lap, and wept bitterly. But the vulture reminded 
them : " He is all wet with your tears, and is tormented by the 
touch of your hand,^ and yet through the working of the god 

^ Literally : no abolishing. 

2 Jul. von Negelein, " Die Raise d. Seele ins Jenseits," Ztschr. d. 
Ver.f. Volksk., Bd. 1 1, p. i6 fF., 149 IF., 263 ff. shows the widespread 
belief: (i) that the soul ftands in relation with the body even after 
death ; (2) that it ftays on at firft in the neighbourhood of the body, 
but for a very variously estimated time ; (3) that in the body, so long 
as it has not decayed, there abides a potential life. As to the laft 
point mention might also be made of India : " So long as even only a 
bone is there, the dead man enjoys glory in the world of heaven." 
Cp. Caland, Toten- u. BeHattungsgebrauche, loj, 109. That it was 
thought in certain cases at leaft that the soul was ftill in the dead man's 
body is well seen, too, from the cu^om of splitting the skull with a 
coco-nut, that the spirit of life might escape. But it is not true to say 
with Negelein : " According to the teaching of the Vedic ritual 
books the soul of the dead man ftays along with the body for a time " 
(pp. 22-23), and to bring forward so confidently as proof Hillebrandt, 
Rituallit. go and (seemingly taken from Hillebrandt) Oldenberg, 
Rel. d. Veda, 555, and Caland, Ahnenkult, 22. The laft-named citation 
is moreover some miftake in Hillebrandt. But Caland, Toten- u. 
Befiattungsgebrauche, 166, perhaps means to say that at the time when 
the body was buried the dead man's earthly wrapping was ftill looked 
on as the abode of his soul. Our passage in the Epic is particularly 
worthy of note on this point, and so also Markandeyapur., x, 70 f. : 


Life in Marriage 

of Ju^ice has been sunk into the long sleep. All of us mu^ 
die. Shun all that is evil, and do all that is good. He that sees 

" When the body (of the dead man) is burned, he feels a ^rong glow, 
and when it is beaten, torment, and when it is cut up, very awful 
torment. When (the body) is moi^ened, the (dead) person suffers 
very long-lafting pain through the ripening of his deeds, although he 
has gone into another body." Still more remarkable, perhaps, is the 
tale of the king's young son whose soul and its life is ^ill so fully 
birring in the buried body. Chavannes, Cinq cents contes, etc., iii, 
p. 218. That the man whose soul is gone feels what is done to his 
body is indeed a view which is found in various places, and in agreement 
with the passages juft named the dead man, according to Mohammedan 
belief suffers under the wailing of his kindred. Negelein, p. 24. 
The soul is looked on, indeed, by the Moslem as united with the 
body before the burial, and also for the iirft night in the grave. Garnett, 
The Women of Turkey, etc., ii, 492 ; 495 f ; Lane, Arabian Society, 
etc., 263 ; M. Horten, Die relig. Gedankenzvelt d. Volkes im heut. 
Islam, pp. 280, 284 f. We are even told of them : "For a whole year 
the bond la^s between the spirit and the body laid in the grave." 
Negelein, p. 2 5 . (Though I have not been able to look up his authority. 
But see M. Horten, loc. cit., 296-300.) This reminds us of the Indian 
doftrine that the dead man only reaches Yama's city after a full year 
has gone by. A very general idea is that the dead man goes on laying 
a shorter or a longer time in his former house, or near to it ; indeed, 
even those who have been taken among the " fathers " — to say nothing 
of the Pretas — are well known in India to approach the offerings 
to the forefathers ; and in particular " one day in the year is free for 
the dead ", in the middle of the rainy season ; then Yama lets all his 
subjedls go off to the world of men. Caland, Totenverehrung, 43-46. 
See also Dubois-Beauchamp ^ p. 488 ; Vasishtha, xi, 39 f ; Vishnu, 
Ixxviii, 51-53 ; Mark.-Pur., x, 75 ; Garudapuranasarod., i, 55. 
According to the two lart the dead man is allowed to ftay twelve days 
longer near his former abode, and take his nourishment from the 
pious gifts ; then he is led away to Yama's city ; Dubois speaks of ten. 
The difference is probably to be explained by the varying length of the 
" uncleanness " of the kindred, depends, that is, first of all on the cafte. 
See Caland, Tote7i' und Bestattungsgebrduche, 81-84, also in Dubois ; 
Crooke, Antkropos, v, p. 461 (five days among the Baidyas in south 
Kanara, cp. 463). Further matter in Negelein ; then Sartori, Ztschr. 
d. Ver.f. Volksk., Bd. 18, p. 375 ; Sartori, ibid., Bd. 4, p. 424; Krauss, 
ibid., Bd. 2, p. 180 at bottom; Krauss, Slav. Volkforschungen, 
p. 1 1 1 ; Freiligrath's Gesicht des Reisenden, etc. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

not (does not heed, negledts) father and mother, kindred, 
and friends, who are ^ill alive, he has broken the moral law.^ 
He that no longer sees with his eyes, nor ^irs at all, that has 
reached his goal and end — what will you do for him by 
weeping ? " When the two beafts had been disputing with 
one another and harrowing the poor people a little longer, 
^iva came, urged on by his wife, and gave them the choice of a 
boon. They spoke : " Give back life again to this only son, 
and thereby to us, too." And the god fulfilled their prayer, 
and granted him that had risen again to live hundreds of years. 
Thus was the sorrow of the wailers turnedto joy, andha^ening 
they came back into the city with the child. 

Like them, the old blind king Dhritarashtra, wringing his 
hands, and sighing so deeply that a mi^, as it were, rises from 
him, bewails the death of his sons, fallen on the battle-field 
(ix, 2) : " When I think of their youth and of their childish play, 
of all the slain sons, then my heart is burning. Since with my 
want of eyes I have not seen their form, that love springing from 
tenderness towards children was kept ever for them. When 
I heard how they were coming beyond childhood's years, were 
entering on the bloom of youth, were reaching the middle 
years of life, I was filled with joy. When now I learn that 
they are cut down, robbed of their lordship and of their 
ftrength, I find re^ nowhere, overwhelmed by my soul's 
anguish for my sons. Come, come, my son, to me who am 
shelterless ! How shall it be for me without thee ! Thou 
that waft the refuge of thy kindred and friends, whither wilt 
thou go, leaving me behind, an old, blind man ? Who will now 
say : ' Father dear ' to me, when I have risen ? Put thine 
arms around my neck once more with eyes dimmed with 
love, and speak those good words to me : ' Bid me ! ' " 

So, too, calls out Bharadvaja from his tortured soul when his 
only son is slain : " Happy indeed are the men to whom no 
son is born, who go their way at their pleasure, without knowing 
the sorrow for a child " (iii, 137.16). This, however, is but 
one note from that song which wails and triumphs through the 

^ Or: For them that see not mother and father, kindred, and friends, 
who are ftill alive (that is, for the dead) the moral law has come to an 
end (disappeared, towards them there is no need, therefore, to observe it) ? 


Life in Marriage 

whole post-Vedic literature : " He only is happy that calls 
nought his own." ^ 

And the parent's heart in Old India often quavered for the 
child ilill living, especially if it was the only one. On this 
an excellent tale was told (iii, 127 f) : "There was a pious 
king, Somaka by name. He had a hundred wives of his own 
rank. But in spite of every mo^ strenuous endeavour the prince 
had no son by them even after a long time. One day among 
his hundred wives there was then born to the old man, who 
used every care and endeavour, a son named Jantu. When he 
had seen the light of day, all his mothers con^antly circled 
round him, and turned their backs on all wishes and pleasures. 
An ant now once bit Jantu on the buttocks, and at the bite 
the child called out loudly with pain. Then all his mothers 
screamed in violent digress, landing quickly in a ring round 
Jantu ; there was a great uproar. These cries of digress were 
suddenly heard by the ruler of the earth, as he sat in the mid^ 
of the council of his minivers with his sacrificial priest. The 
lord of the earth sent and asked : ' What is that ? ' The door- 
keeper told him what had happened to his son. Quickly 
Somaka, the queller of his foes, rose up with his councillors, 
went off to the women's apartments, and soothed his son. 
When the prince had soothed his son, he left the women's 
apartments, and seated himself together with his sacrificial 
prie^ and his minivers of ^ate. Somaka spoke : ' Grievous 

^ When all his sons are snatched away from the holy man Vasishtha, 
he becomes a kind of Old Indian Ahasuerus : he resolves to die, and throws 
himself from the cliff, but falls as though onto a heap of cotton. He 
goes into the blazing fire, and to him the flame is cool. He hangs a 
^one on his neck and leaps into the sea, but the waves caft him ashore 
(i, 176.41 fF., cp. 177, espec. 177.16; 178.2). As an inftrudive 
counterpart an American Indian Ahasuerus may be given here : A son 
is beaten by his father, and goes into the foreft. After he has wandered 
a long time he comes to a place where a lot of wood has piled itself up. 
He wants to die, and leaps from the pile into the water, but comes 
up to the surface again safe and sound. Then he comes to a ^eep 
cliff. He climbs up and throws himself down, but is ftill quite unharmed 
(Boas, Ztschr.f. EthnoL, " Abhandl. d. anthrop. Gesellsch.," Bd. 24, 
p. 406). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

it is, when a man has but one son on earth ! It were better 
to have no son. Since beings are always shadowed by suffering, 
it is a sorrow to have only one son.^ When I had carefully 
picked myself out these hundred wives of equal birth with me, 
I took them home that I might have sons. And now they have 
no children ! One son has come into being with trouble and 
care, this my Jantu, by the exertion of all. What sorrow could 
now be greater ! The vigorous age has now departed from me 
and my wives. Their life and mine re^s on this one little son of 
mine. Is there now a work that were such as to give me a 
hundred sons, whether through a great, or a small deed, or 
one hard to carry out ? ' The sacrificial priesT: spoke : 
' There is such a work whereby thou would^ have a hundred 
sons. If thou canft do it, then I will speak, Somaka.' Somaka 
spoke : ' Be it possible or impossible, that by which I get a 
hundred sons, it is already done. Know that, O glorious one ; 
tell it unto me ! ' The sacrificial prieft spoke : ' Sacrifice 
Jantu, O king, in a sacrifice carried out by me, then thou wilt 
speedily have a hundred splendid sons for thine own. If his 
retina is offered up in the fire, and his mothers smell the smoke, 
they will bear sons mighty and ^rong as heroes. But their son 
will come into being again in his own (bodily) mother. And 
on his left side he will bear a golden birthmark.' Somaka 
spoke : ' Brahman, even as this mu^ be carried out, so indeed 
do thou carry it out. In my longing for sons I will obey all 
thy words.' Then for Somaka he sacrificed this Jantu. But 
his mothers tore him away ^ by force, filled with pity, wailing 
in their burning sorrow : ' Woe, we are death's,' weeping 
bitterly and seizing him by the right hand. But the sacrificial 
prie^ seized him by the left hand, and so dragged and tore the 
child away from them, who wailed like she-eagles of the sea. 
And having cut him up according to the precept, he offered 
up the retina of his eye in the fire. When the retina was offered 
up in the fire, and the mothers smelt the smoke, they fell in 

^ One son and one eye is something and is nothing ; both can so 
easily get loft. K i, 107.69. 

2 K. again touches it up, and has pratyakarshan. Apakarshuh is 
anyhow from krish. 


Life in Marriage 

tortures suddenly onto the ground, and all these exquisite women 
there received a fruit of the body. Ten months afterwards 
the gift of a full hundred sons was made by these wives together 
to Somaka. Jantu was born firft, and from his own 
mother ^ ; he was the much beloved for them all, not so their 
own children ; and that golden birthmark was on his right side, 
and among these hundred sons he was the firft too in qualities. 
Then that Guru (teacher, high prieft) of Somaka went into 
the other world. And in the course of time Somaka, too, went 
into the other world. There he saw him scorching in the 
dreadful hell. He asked him : ' Wherefore do^ thou scorch 
in hell, O Brahman ? ' Then his Guru, who was being sore 
tortured by the fire, spoke unto him : ' I have made sacrifice 
for thee, O king, this is the fruit of that work.' When the 
royal Rishi had heard this, he spoke to the king of justice 
(to Yama, the lord of the dead and of hell) : ' I will 
go in there. Set thou my sacrificial prieft free ! For 
it is for my sake that the excellent one is being burned by hell 
fire.' Yama spoke : ' None other but the doer ever enjoys 
the fruit of the work. Here (in heaven) the fruits oi thy deeds 
are seen, O be^ of those that speak.' Somaka spoke : ' I 
crave not for the holy and heavenly worlds without the knower 
of the Veda, only with him will I dwell in the abode of the 
gods or in hell, O king of justice ; for I am the same as he is 
in the work. Let the fruit of the good or of the evil work be 
alike then for us both.' Yama spoke : ' If thou so wisheft, 
O king, then enjoy together with him the fruit of the work 
which he reaps, and for the same length of time. After that 
thou wilt come unto the place of the good.' Then did the lotus- 
eyed king do this all, and when his sin was blotted out, he 
was set free from there with his Guru. He came together 
with this Guru into that pure heavenly joy which he had 
won for himself through his deeds, he who loved his Guru." ^ 

^ That the dead child appears again in the one born next is a wide- 
spread belief. Here we will only refer to Hartland, Primitive 
Paternity,\,20C)L; 218; 221; 226 fF.; 230 ff.; 242 ff. 

2 For the sacrificing of the one child so as to get many, cp. Hopkins, 
The Fountain of Youth, JAOS, 26, p. 6 ; Chavannes, Cinq cents 
contes, etc., i, 127 ; ii, 171. 

» 193 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

In the same way as this sonless man, so, too, his fellow-king 
in Old India, (^antanu, the father of Bhishma, declares : " To 
have one son is to have none" (i, 100.67 ' ^P- " o^ie son is 
no son, the wise say " v, 147. 18). More moderate than these 
fathers, carried away, manlike, by their feelings, is Lopamudra, 
the princess and wife of a beggar : her husband, Aga^ya, 
mighty in penance and dige^ive powers, leaves her the choice 
of having a thousand or a hundred or ten sons, or only one, who 
shall be equal in worth to thousands. She shares the view 
already known from the Hitopade9a, and chooses the one son 
(iii, 99.20 ff.). 

And the children repay, too, this tenderness of their parents : 
no land and no people shows a more beautiful attitude of children 
to parents, and few can show one to be compared at all to that 
in India. Witness is borne to this in the Epic, too, and 
innumerable times. Here only a few examples are given. 

The youthful penitent mortally wounded by Da^aratha 
through a mi^ake, bewails really only his old blind father and 
mother, whom up till now he has supported and cared for, 
and who without him are lo^,^ and then comes transfigured out 
of Indra's heaven, into which he, the son of the Vaigya man 
and Cudra woman, has gone owing to his good deeds towards 
his parents, to the broken couple, and consoles them by telling 
them that they are soon to join him (Ram., ii, 63-64). One 
of the moft pleasing figures in the Mahabh. is the dharma- 
vyadha, the pious butcher, to whom father and mother are 
the divinity. Brahman, Veda, and sacrifice, who lovingly 
honours and cares for them, and through his bearing towards 
them reaches the loftie^ perfeftion. Although only a (^udra, 
he brings a proud Brahman penitent, who has run away from 
his parents, back to his duty towards them, to that greate^ 
form of piety (iii, 207 ff., especially 214 and 21 5).^ 

One day. King (^antanu is going along in the fore^. There 
he smells an incomparably sweet scent. He follows it up, and 
finds a fisherman's daughter, the SatyavatI already known to 
us, who looks after her fo^er- father's ferry-boat, and thus 

1 Cp. Jat., vi, p. 76 fF. 

2 Cp. ^ukasaptati, the main tale. 


Life in Marriage 

has had the adventure leading to the birth of Vyasa, and at 
the same time to her fragrant smell. By her divine beauty, her 
sw^eet charm, and her indescribable fragrance a burning love 
is kindled in him, and he asks her of her fo^er-father, the 
fisherman. But this latter will only give his consent if the 
king promises him on oath that the son of the pair shall be king 
without any rival. Now as (^antanu has already a splendid 
scion, the Bhishma born of Gariga, and has already consecrated 
him as heir to the throne, he will not do so. " Burning with 
hot love, his mind darkened with passion, thinking only of the 
fisherman's daughter, he went back to Ha^inapura." Then 
Bhishma once saw him thus grieving and asked him why he 
was always thus pining in sorrow, why he was pale and 
haggard and always deep in thought ; he would know, he 
said, his sorrow, and help him. " But Cantanu, the father, 
could not disclose to the son this unavowable love of his for the 
fisherman's daughter." ^ He said : " Thou art the only son 
in a warrior race, and ever busied with warlike things ; there- 
fore wilt thou fall in the fight. And, indeed, all things in the 
world are thus fleeting. I do not wish for myself to marry a 
second time, but I wish to do so that the line may not die out." 
Then Bhishma went to the old miniver of his father, and asked 
him. From his lips he learned the details.^ At once the noble 
son with old Kshattriyas sought out that fisherman, and asked 
on his father's behalf for Satyavatl's hand. Her fofter-father 
granted that this was a highly honourable match, and that 
King Cantanu had already been named to him by the maiden's 
real father as a worthy husband, and so the divine Rishi Asita, 
who was violently in love and was seeking her hand, had had to 
withdraw rebuffed. But as a father he had to point out, he 
said, that the son of these two would not be able to ^and up 
against so mighty a rival as Bhishma. Bhishma then before 
all the witnesses solemnly renounced his father's throne. But 
the fisherman, like a prudent adviser, then reminded them 
that even then Bhishma's offspring would make a claim. Now 
did the good son make the awful vow : " From to-day onwards 

^ This sentence according to K.( 1 07.63). It is not absolutely needed. 
2 InK. (107.76 ff.) he learns everything through a long conversation 
with his father's Suta. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

I shall live in utter chastity, and the imperishable worlds in 
heaven will fall to the sonless one's lot." In great joy 
the fisherman now gave his consent. At once Bhishma made 
requesl: : " Come up into my chariot, mother ; we will 
drive home." He brought his father the bride, and the father 
for his hard deed granted him the boon of only having to die 
when he wished it himself (i, 100.45 ff, 5 ^p. v, 172.17-19 ; 
173-5 ; vi, 14.2 ; 120.14).! 

But the mo^ famous example of a child's love is probably 
Rama. Everything is ready for his being consecrated as heir 
to the throne, when his ^ep-mother, Kailceyl, who at fir'^ 
with a joyous love for him has approved of all, but has then been 
goaded on by the hunchbacked, spiteful serving-woman, makes 
a ^ubborn prote^, and wants to see her own son consecrated 
as the king's successor ; Rama for safety is to go off for fourteen 
years into the fore^ of banishment. Since the old king 
Da^aratha on the one hand is passionately devoted to her, but 
on the other is also bound by his earlier solemn promise of 
favour, he does not, indeed, agree, and even bitterly remon- 
^rates with her, but he cannot meet her with the needful 
resolute negative. When Rama learns what is happening, 
he is at once ready, and his only sadness is that his father does 
not speak to him. Among other things he says : " I should 
not wish to live a moment, if I were not gladdening the great 
king, if I were not obeying my father's words, if the prince 
were angered with me. How should a man aft wrongly again^ 
him in whom he sees the root of his own life, and who is the 
visible godhead t (Ram., ii, 18. 15-16). At the king's bidding 
I would leap into the fire or the sea, and I would eat strong 
poison (ii, 18.29-30). There is no praftice of virtue which 
were greater than obedience to the father (ii, 19.22). What is 
the good of our seeking by every means the favour of fortune, 
which lies not in our hands, and negledling what we have in our 
hands : father and mother and teacher ! " (ii, 30.33). Laksh- 
mana, who is devoted with a mo^ heartfelt love to his injured 
brother, uses, indeed, in his anger words other than these, and 

! There is something very much the same from the hiftory of the 
Rajputs in Tod, Raja^han, i, 295 fF. ; 41 5-416 ; ii, 144. 


Life in Marriage 

very unusual with Indian sons. He chides the tottering old 
fool, blinded by love of women, wants to bind and if needs be 
even kill his father, to ^ir up a rising again^ him, and so on. 
But Rama calms him, speaks kind words to Kaikeyl and of her ; 
he says that she who did after all so love him cannot be guilty, 
but that fate is driving her on again^ her will ; he even spurs 
on Lakshmana to flop without any delay all preparations for 
the consecration, that her auspicious, painful anxiety about her 
own son's happiness may at once be set at reft. But now he 
finds himself in a conflidl of duties, which, however, does not 
unduly disturb him : his mother Kau(jalya declares she will 
on no account give him leave to go off into the fore^, and she 
puts it to him thus : " Obedient to his mother, with chasl:ened 
soul, dwelling at home, Kagyapa won the highest ascetic merit, 
and came into heaven. Ju^ as the king, so mu^ I, too, be 
honoured by thee with deep respeft. Parted from thee, life 
and fortune is nothing to me ; by thy side, to eat grass only 
is the greater weal. If thou leave me behind overcome with 
sorrow, and go into the fore^, then I shall ^arve myself to 
death ; in such wise as that I cannot go on living." But Rama 
makes it clear to her by the examples of the old Rishis that the 
father's bidding mu^ always be unconditionally fulfilled. She 
is as one dead in her sorrow, and insi^s : " As thy father, so 
also am I a Guru for thee because of my right and my love.^ 
What can life mean to me without thee, what can the world 
mean, or the food of the dead or of the gods ! An infant near 
thee is more to me than even the whole world of the living." 
When Rama heard the woeful plaint of his mother, he burned 
once more in torture like a mighty elephant that is scared by 
men with fire-brands, and hurls itself once miore into the 

1 So too, for insTiance, Narada, xii, 59 declares : " The fruit of 
the field cannot be born without the field, nor without seed, therefore 
in law the child belongs to the father and the mother " ; and according 
to Para9ara, vii, 6 the giving away of the daughter is the right of the 
following three : the mother, the father, the eldeft brother. This is in 
harmony with the well-known Vetala tale of the three wooers and the 
maiden that was killed by a snake's bite, but called back to life again 
by magic. Cp. Meyer, Altind. Rechtsschr., 227 f 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

darkness." ^ But in spite of all he wavered not ; he showed 
her that Da^aratha it was who was in authority over them both, 
and that he would come back himself, and gladden her heart 
(Ram., ii, 21). 

^ The elephant scared with fire-brands is very often found as a 
comparison in the Epic. So, iv, 48.12 ; vii, 22.14; 109.12 ; viii, 
50.42; 80.26; ix, 17.4; xi, 18.25; Ram., ii, 27.54; vi, 13.19; 



Woman as Mother 

AT the centre point in this intimate family hfe is the mother, 
covered with much glory by Indian literature ; and, as 
has been already pointed out, to the Hindu it is j uii this side of 
a woman's life that is the beginning and the end. Woman 
as a mother takes up in the Epic, too, an important place. 

In Mahabh., i, 196.16 we find : " Of all guru the mother 
is the highe^ guru " ; in xii, 342.18 : " There is no higher 
virtue (or : no higher law) than the truth, no guru to equal the 
mother, a greater thing for weal than the Brahmans is found 
neitherhercnorthere"(cp.xiii, 63.92) ; inxiii, 105.14 : "Above 
ten fathers or even the whole earth in worth (gaurava) ^ands 
the mother ; there is no guru like the mother " ^ (cp. 106.65). 
Cp. iii, 313.60 ; xii, 301.44. For all curses there are means 
of averting and de^roying (pratighata, moksha), but for the 
mother's, and hers only, there are none (i, 37.3-5).^ Indeed, 

^ The spiritual mafter (acarya) ftands above ten private teachers 
(upadhyaya) in worth and dignity, the father above a hundred spiritual 
makers, but the mother above a thousand fathers. Manu, ii, 145 ; 
Vasishtha, xiii, 48. Cp. MBh., xii, 108.16 f. ; K, xiv, 110.60. 
Also according to Yajnav., i, 35 and Gautama, ii, 51, the mother 
^ands at the head of the venerable ones (guru), and above priests and 
religious teachers. To the " golden rules which the teacher gives 
the disciple to take with him on life's way " belong the following 
in the old sacred Upanishad : " Honour thy mother like a god. 
Honour thy father like a god. Honour thy teacher like a god. Honour 
the gue^ like a god." (Taitt.-Up., i, 9.1, 2 ; Deussen, Seckzig 
Upanishad d. Veda, p. 222.) The mother comes fir^ here also, as, 
indeed, in the Sanskrit compound it is always ; " mother and father ", 
and never " father and mother ". If the two are united by " and " 
then, on the other hand, it is oftener the other way. The mother 
is more venerable than the father because she has carried the child, 
and had to suffer pain. K., vol. i, p. 2 1 2, line i . 

^ So also Markandeyapur., cvi, 28. Though according to Ixxvii, 
31 there has never yet been such a thing as a mother forgetting her 
love and cursing her own child. Cp. cvi, 32. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

xii, 1 6 1. 9 ^ates : "There is no pious exercise cither in the 
world or in the ascetics' fore^ that can sland above the mother 
(nati mataram a^ramah)." 'Yudhishthira in xii, io8 asks 
Bhishma : " What is the highest of all duties (virtues, law 
precepts, dharma) ? " ; and he gets the answer : " The 
honouring of mother, father, and teacher (guru) I set high ; 
whoso is diligent about these enjoys the worlds of heaven, 
and high renown. ^ And the task that these be^ow, be it the 
law, or opposed to the law, that muft be done.^ What they 
allow is what is right ; they are the three worlds, they are 
the three spheres of duties in life (a(jrama), they are the three 
Vedas, they are the three holy fires. The father is held to 
be the garhapatya fire, the mother the southern fire, the teacher 
the ahavanlya. This fire trinity is the mo^ important. If 
thou give^ the proper heed to these three, then thou shalt 
win the three worlds ; of this world thou wilt unfailingly be 
master through the rightful behaviour towards thy father, of 
the world beyond through that towards thy mother, of the 
Brahma world through that towards thy teacher. Whoso 
cares for these three has won all three worlds ; but whoso 
cares not for them, his holy deeds are all barren. Whoso does 
not at all times hold these three venerable ones in high e^eem, 
for him there is no salvation in this world or the other.^ The 
mother ^ands above ten fathers, or even the whole world, in 
worth (gurutva), there is no guru to equal the mother." * 

1 Father, mother, and the guru who brings a man into the knowledge 
of Brahman are the mahaguru or Very Venerable, the Firft Masters. 
Anyone speaking evil words of them or to them muft fa^ five days. 
Mahanirvanat., xi, 145. Atiguru ("Values above all") these three 
are called in Vishnusmriti, xxxi, i. 

2 Opposed to this in the Epic is also an often-recurring saying, 
that a bad guru, walking along evil paths, mu^ be punished (i, 140.54 ; 
xii, 55.15 f.; 57.7; 140.48; Ram., ii, 21.13). Cp. MBh.,iv, 51.1 5, 
and the words, following later, of Bhishma addressed to Para^urama. 
— With K. read : dharmarn dharmaviruddham va. 

^ The same teaching in Manu, ii, 228-234 ; Vishnu, xxxi ; and 
often elsewhere. 

* In what follows, it is true, all is nicely touched up again, and the 
spiritual teacher (acarya) set high above the mother and father ; 


Woman as Mother 

Cp. xiii, 104.45. It is even asserted that the mother's origin 
casTis no slur (matridosho na vidv^ate, K., i, 99.6). On the 
other hand we are also told that the father ^ands above the 
mother. According to xii, 297.2 the father is the highe^ 
godhead for men, and is above the mother. " The mother is 
the wallet (for the father's seed), to the father belongs the son ; 
he is his bv whom he has been begotten " (i, 74. 1 1 0). ^ But we 
have already seen that the mother is the field, and thus the 
important thing, the seed can be thrown in by anyone ; and 
while the man might wed a woman from a lower cafte, it was 
moft ^ri<5lly forbidden for a woman to lower herself. 

How Rama in a case where his duty towards his father 
comes into conflidl: with that towards his mother bears himself 
as the pattern hero of the Ramayana, almoft always faithfully 
Brahmanic, we have already seen. Another example is that 
Para^urama, destroyer of the Kshattriyas, who is so highly 
glorified by the prieslly ca^e, but who in reality is mo^ repug- 
nant. In the Mahabh. also is related shortly his resolute adl 
towards his mother (iii, 1 16). Jamadagni, the holy son of that 
Riclka already mentioned, followed his father's example and 
wedded a royal princess named Renuka. She bore him five sons, 
of whom the youngest was Rama with the axe. One day, the 
sons being away to get fruit, the pious mother went to bathe. 
There she saw King Citraratha wreathed in lotuses playing in 
the water with his wives, and her heart was gripped by a longing 
for him. As a result of this unfaithfulness of hers she came 
back from the water to the hermitary all wet, with troubled 
mind, and filled with fear.^ The penitent saw she had lo^ 
her determination, and had been robbed of her holy splendour, 
that she had sinned, and one after the other be bade his four 

these latter are the inftrument for the earthly body, while the acarya 
brings about the heavenly birth (cp. Manu, ii, 144 fF. ; Vishnu, xxx, 
44). And from what has been said before, through him the world of 
Brahma is won, a doftrine often found in Smriti. 

^ Cp. for inftance Wilson's Vishnupur. (ed. Hall), vol. iv, p. 133 
Endnote; Bhagavatapur., ix, 20 f. ; Kautilya (transl.), 260.3. 

2 K. adds : " having fallen from the air into the Narmada," 
which suggefts a remarkable variant of this tale. 

H« 201 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

eldeft sons, as they came home in turn, to kill the mother. 
Overcome with confusion.^ dunned, they answered not a 
word. Therefore did the angry man curse them, and at once 
they were bereft of reason, like unto dull bea^s. When Rama 
appeared, he called on him to slay the sinful woman. Rama 
hewed her head off at once with his axe. Then of a sudden 
the old man's rage passed away, and he left it to his son to 
wish anything he wanted for himself. The son asked firft 
that his mother should wake again to life without remembering 
what had happened, and that his brothers should be roused 
to live once more like reasoning men ; and this came 

Less resolute was the behaviour of another in a like case 
(xii, 266). Gautama, of the family of the Aiigirases, had a son 
who pondered everything slowly, set about it slowly, carried 
it out slowly, wherefore he was called Slow Doer (Cirakari, 
Cirakarin, Cirakari ka), and short-sighted people who were 
brisk and sharp called him a blockhead. When his mother 
one day had been guilty of unfaithfulness to her husband,^ the 
holy man went over the heads of his other sons and angrily 
bid Cirakari : " Slay thy mother ! " After these words 
the moft excellent Gautama, be^ among the prayer-mutterers, 
went off without further thought into the fore^. Slow Doer 
said, true to his nature, only after a long while : " Yes," and 
being a slow doer, he pondered and refledled long : " How shall 
I contrive to carry out my father's bidding and yet not kill my 
mother ? How shall I not sink down like an evil man in this 
shifting turmoil of duties ? ^ The father's bidding is the 
highe^ law, my own (the natural) law is to shield my mother ; 

^ Probably sammohah is the reading, as in K. 

2 Cp. Zachariae, " Gocthes Parialegende," Zschr. d. Ver.f. Folksk., 
xi, 186 ff. ; xii, 44 fF. ; ThursT:on, Omens and Superliilions, etc. (19 12), 
p. 148 f. (interesting variants). 

3 Her name was Ahalya. Of her love adventure with Indra more 
will be said later. 

* Dharmacchala, lit., deceit of duties, deceit of virtue, seeming 
virtue, juggling with virtue. The word is often found in the MBh., 
and generally means a deceitful injuring of virtue, especially under the 
cover of virtue. So ix, 60.26 ; xii, 270.12; xiii, 20.13. 


Woman as Mother 

and to be a son is to be subjeft. But what is there then that 
will not torment me later ? Who could ever be happy, if he 
has killed a woman, and moreover his own mother ! And who 
could ever win calm and peace who has not heeded his father ? 
Not to disregard the father is right and fitting, and it is a 
firm principle to shield one's mother. Both duties are right and 
salutary. How can I aft, that the matter may not get beyond 
me ^ For the father sets his own self in the mother at the 
begetting, we are told, to keep virtue, good ways, race, and 
family in being. I here have been made a son by my 
mother and father ; how should I not have the knowledge ! 
Of both I know that they are my origin. That which my father 
said at the birth ceremony and at the by-ceremony — its con- 
firmation is made complete in the firm resolve to honour my 
father.^ The fir^ guru who has nourished and taught a 
man is the higheft law ; what a father says is the moral rule 
set down as fixed even in the Vedas. For the father the son is 
but a joy, but for the son the father is all ; he alone gives 
as an offering his body and all else there is to give. Therefore 
a man shall adl according to his father's words, and never 
take thought upon it ; mortal sins (pataka) even are washed 
away from him who follows his father's bidding. In matters 
of eating and of other things that are for use, in the in^ruftion 
and in the whole view of life, at the union with a lord (or with 
the husband), and at the holy cu^om of parting the hair the 
father is the law, the father is heaven, the father is the loftieft 
asceticism. If the father is made to rejoice, then all the gods 
rejoice. Those words of blessing are fulfilled for a man which 

^ At the birth ceremony the father says to the son : — 

Be thou a ftone, be thou an axe, 

Be thou gold that is beyond valuing ! 

Thou art the Veda called " son ". 

Live a hundred autumns long ! 
If the father comes home from a journey, he muft say to the boy : 
Thou art born limb from limb, etc., as already given (A^val., i, i 5.9 f. ; 
Parask., i, 18 ; Gobh., ii, 8.21 ; Hirany., ii, i, 4.16 ff. ; Apart., 15, 
12 if. ; Khad., ii, 3, 1 3 ff.). This according to Nil. is the by-cere- 
mony, and he says that this precept holds good till the boy is brought 
to the teacher. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

the father utters. It is absolution from all sins when the 
father finds his joy in him. The bloom loosens itself from 
the ^alk, the fruit from the tree — if the father has to 
suffer sorrow and pain (through his son), yet because of his 
tender love for the child he does not loosen himself from the 
son.^ Thus then have I pondered the reverence the son 
owes his father ^ ; the father is no small thing. Now will 1 
consider the mother. The cause of this body here with me in 
the mortal world, and made up of the five elements, is my 
mother, as that of fire is the rubbing-ftick. The mother is 
the rubbing-ftick of the body for mankind, the comfort of all 
that suffer. If one has a mother, one is sheltered, but 
unsheltered if one has her not. He docs not grieve, age does 
not weigh on him, even though fortune betray him, who comes 
back home to his house and can say ' Mother ! ' And let a 
man be surrounded by sons and grandsons, and ^and at the 
end of his hundredth year, yet if he takes refuge with his mother, 
he adts like a child of two years.^ Whether he is capable or 
incapable, unimportant or important, the mother protedls 
the son ; no other career has been appointed by fate. He is 
old, he is unhappy, the world is an empty desert for him, 
if he is parted from his mother. There is no shadow like 
the mother,^ there is no refuge like the mother, there is 
no shelter like the mother, there is no beloved like the 
mother. Since she has carried him in her body, she is, according 
to the tradition, the carrier (dhatrl), since she has borne him 
she is the bearer (janani), since she has nourished his limbs 
to greatness, she is his little mother (amba), since she has borne 
a man, she is the bearer of men, since the child humbly listens 
to her, she is the kinswoman (gu^ru) ; the mother is his own 
body.^ Could a man who is in his senses and whose head is 

^ So according to K., where sutasnehaih ftands in^ead of sutam 
snehaih (272). 

2 Nature of a guru, that is, dignity, or else, worth, importance 
(for the son). 

3 Or : If he goes to his mother, he is wont to a6l like a child of two 

* So cooling and so faithful. 

5 Liter. : the identical, unparted body. . 


Woman as Mother 

not hollow 1 kill her ! The purpose which the married 
pair cherish when they unite their life powers is also 
cherished by the mother and father, so it is said ; adually the 
case is so only with the mother.^ The mother knows to what 
paternal family (gotra) he belongs, the mother knows whose 
he is. The mother by the mere carrying (of the fruit of her 
body) feels a joyful love and tenderness ; for the father the 
children are offspring (pituh prajah). If men at fir^ (at the 
wedding) themselves carry out the entwining of hands, and 
enter on the ^ate of common duty, and then go off to others, 
women do not deserve any blame.^ For from supporting 
the wife the man is called her spouse (bhartar), and from 
protefting the wife her husband (or lord, pati) ; but where 
this attribute is gone, there there is no longer spouse, and no 
longer husband.* Therefore the woman does not sin, only 
the man sins ; and if he goes a^ray into the great crime of 

^ K. (272.33) reads more smoothly : cetanavan sa ko hanyad. 

2 The man in sexual union really seeks only his pleasure, but the 
woman seeks the child, which rule will always be true. 

3 Should they break faith, too, with the faithless men. I read 
vacyatam inftead of yacyatam. The Bomb, text would mean : then 
women are not fit for wooing, that is, if they are asked, then 
thev cannot say no. K. has yapyatam, which is translated under 
the text by , tyajyatam. According to Bohtlingk Biihler for yapya 
gives the rendering : to whom a rebuke is to be given. This would 
agree with my amendment, but I should not be able to juftify it. 
Essentially the meaning is always the same, and we should here have a 
confirmation of my reading of xiii, 19 ff. : Women are what men make 
them, which, indeed, Forel, for example, also rightly Presses in his 
Sexuelle Frage. — With yasyati I follow the interpretation of the schoL, 
which fits in well with the exposition that follows. It is true that there 
is only there : " if men (had to) go," and Deussen in his Vier philosoph. 
Texten des MBh. gives the rendering " run away ". This, indeed, 
fits in with the general position : Gautama has evidently negleded 
his wife from the beginning, and after her offence also he at once 
runs off again into the foreft (cp. also q:l. 62). But with such sermons 
we muft not insisT: unbendingly on such §ix\&. logic. 

* According to the context, this saying, which we found already in 
i, 104.30, means : The husband has as his duty, by his own example 
especially, to give in the ethical sense ftrength, ^ay, and proteftion 
to the wife, not only to feed her, and cherish and care for her. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

adultery, it is only the man who sins in this.^ The greatest 
thing of all for the woman, according to the tradition, is the 
husband, he is her highest godhead. But now she has given 
him her own self, that ^ands equal to his self, as the highe^ 
thing.2 On women no sin is laid, only the man sins ; since in 
all cases it is women who have to let themselves be the objedl 
of sin, so women do not sin. And since from the woman's 
side no invitation ^ has gone to him to satisfy the desire for 
love, the wrongdoing is undoubtedly his, who clearly gave the 
call to it. But even the unreasoning bea^s would thence 
know that a woman, and moreover the mother that is in higheft 
honour, mu^ not be killed. In the father is seen the whole 
assemblage of the divinities united in one person ; but in the 
mother, because of her love, we come to the whole assemblage 
of mortals and gods." * While in this wise he pondered 
deeply because of his slow doing, a long time went by him. 
Then his father came up, the very wise Medhatithi, that 
Gautama living an ascetic life, having during this time weighed 
the offence again^ the established order done by his wife. 
In great torment he spoke, shedding tears in his pain, filled 
with remorse by the helping grace of his holy knowledge, and 
firmness of charafter : " Into my hermitage came Indra, 
the ruler of the world, the shatterer of ^rongholds, giving 
himself out as a gue^, and taking a Brahman's shape. Friendly 
words I spoke to him, and honoured him with a joyful welcome ; 
gueft water and water for the feet I brought him, as is seemly. 
And if he is told, ' I am at thy bidding,' he will then ^art 
love-making.^ If then something evil happened, it is not 

^ According to Manu, viii, 317 ; Vasishtha, xix, 44, the adulteress 
cabT:s off her sin onto the husband ; he should have kept her from it. 

^ The very expression atmanarn dadau does not seem at all to allow 
of a reference to the son she has borne him. 

^ Liter. : suggc^ion, reference, hint. On this conception cp. 
Freidank's Bescheidenheit ed. Bezzenberger, p. 158 : Swa wip, etc. 

* Probably not so well : the whole assemblage, etc., comes into the 

^ Or : If a man is told : " I am at thy bidding," then he (in the 
world, anyhow) will show his inclination. This version is after all 


Woman as Mother 

the woman that has done wrong. So neither the woman, 
nor myself, nor the wanderer (the gue^) Indr^ can be accused 
of sinning against the law.^ But it is my want of thought 
that sinned. Therefore do the holy men that are wholly 
cha^e say that from jealousy comes woe. Carried away now 
by jealousy, I have sunk into the sea of evil-doing. Who 
will bring me safely to the shore, who have slain a good woman 
and a wife, and one brought to lechery through evil fate,^ 
and, as I should have cherished and cared for her, my ' fofl:er- 
ward ' (my wife, bharya) ? If Slow Doer, he with the noble 
soul, to whom in a weak moment I gave the order, were to-day 
indeed a slow doer, then he would keep me from a mortal sin 
(pataka). Slow Doer, hail to thee ! Hail to thee. Slow 
Doer I If thou to-day art a slow doer, then thou art indeed 
a slow doer. Save me and thy mother and the penitential 
merit I have acquired, and thyself from mortal sin ; to-day 
be a slow doer. Long waft thou yearned for by thy mother, 
long borne in the womb ; to-day let thy slow doing yield fruit, 
thou Slow Doer." 2 As Gautama, the great Rishi, thus 
was grieving himself, he saw his son Cirakari landing near. 
But so soon as Cirakari had seen his father, he threw the knife 
away, filled with deepest sorrow, and set about winning his 

to be preferred, and because, too, Indra's guilt thus ^ands out all 
the sharper. 

^ I did in accordance with law, cuftom (and reason) when I 
welcomed the gue^ so unreservedly, and Indra was only following 
his own law (his nature, dharma) when he as a woman-hunter paid 
her court. 

2 Indra came in Gautama's shape to her, at leaft according to the 
usual version. But here it is not clear whether this is the leading 
motive here, indeed, Gautama's words in particular about the gue^ 
in Brahman's shape rather speak again^ it, so that after all " through 
evil passion " might be better. Of course, for this meaning of the 
word I can only bring forward from the MBh., xii, 290.20 : avya- 
sanita, passionlessness. Cp. too the later note on the faft that Ahalya 
knew Indra very well. 

3 K. reads Cirakarika. But the nom. too can be read (" as Slow 
Doer "). The following ^loka to me seems to be an insertion, although 
K. too has it (272.58). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

favour with his head. When Gautama then saw him with 
head sunk towards the ground, and saw his wife all mazed,^ 
he was filled with the greate^ joy. He clasped his son long 
in his arms, and in a lengthy speech praised him for his blessed 
procra^ination ; for : " Slowly let the friend be knit to one, 
and slowly let go again the friend that has been won ; for the 
friend slowly won can be long kept. Where passion, pride, 
arrogance, hurtfulness, evil-doing, and anything unfriendly 
that is to be done (to another) are in question, then is the slow 
doer praised. Where the question is of trespasses not cleared 
up of kindred and friends, servants and wives the slow 
doer is praised." 

In the eyes of the law, of course, and also in pradlicc, so 
far as the rule was not weakened or altogether annulled through 
more than ordinary strength in the woman or for some other 
reason, the patriarchal system prevailed in India then as now, 
and, to the aforesaid high position of the mother, was opposed 
her, in many respefts, lower valuation as a woman. But the Epic 
gives us glimpses enough to show us that in those times the 
woman held in general a more important position than she did 
later.^ We shall speak of that below. And again, in the 
narrative parts themselves are to be found plenty of indications 
not only of that loving and pious attitude towards the two 
parents, but also of the attitude towards the mother in particular. 
When his house-prieft or Purohita has given Yudhishthira a 
long ledlure on the proper behaviour which the brothers mu^ 
observe as servants to the prince, he that is thus preached to 
says : "Now we are inftrudted, and I beg leave to say, that none 
can set this forth but our mother KuntI and the high-souled 
Vidura " (iv, 4.52). Together with his brothers he shows over 
and over again throughout the long narrative the same attitude 
of mind towards his mother ; and Bhlma, the man of deep 
feelings, by far the moft human and attraftive of the Pandavas, 

^ Lit. : without (fair, dignified) appearance ; cp. " to lose coun- 
tenance ", and " like a whipped dog ". Cp. xii, 333.18 ; vii, 72.10. 

2 Or perhaps rather : that in the world of the MBh., which at 
leaft grew up out of an original Kshattriya poetry, the woman was 
in far higher efteera than she was when controlled by more priestly 
notions and conditions (or in other social classes). 


Woman as Mother 

^ands out, too, through a tender regard towards Kuntl. The 
visit paid by the Pandavas to their old mother in the hermitage, 
their farewell of the aged woman, and their sorrow at learning 
that she has been burned in the fores!:, are likewise affeclingly 
drawn for us (xv, 2i ff. ; 36.27, 28, 35 ff. ; 37.18 ff.). We 
hear, too, the note of the heart's true feeling in Yudhishthira's 
words about Kuntl's womanly virtues, motherly tenderness, 

and bitter lot (v, 83.37 ^■)- ^'^^ ^^^ ^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^"^ ^^^ ^^^ "^°^ 
urgent greeting sent by him through Vidura to Hastinapura. 
And so for other cases. 

And towards the other wives of the father the sons show in 
the Epic a pious spirit like that we have already met with in 
Rama. Along with other heroes Yudhishthira should here again 
be mentioned, who begs Nakula off from death and not his own 
brothers, when the Yaksha in the pond lets him have only one 
of the four dead, and who gives as the reason : " Both the wives 
of my father are dear alike to me ; both Madrl and Kuntl 
shall have a son " (iii, 3 13. 13}-^ 

But not only the Pandavas, who are painted as Indian patterns 
of virtue, but even Duryodhana, set before us in the colours of 
the arch-villain, likens rather to his mother than to his father 
and his other kinsfolk. Krishna goes as the messenger of the 
five brothers to the court of Dhritarashtra to negotiate a peace. 
In a solemn ^ate gathering all ^rive to talk Duryodhana into 
giving way and coming to terms with the sons of Pandu. 
But in vain. Then Krishna, who has it in his heart only to 
offend Duryodhana and light the fires of war, addresses biting 
words to the ^ubborn man, and at la^ the latter together with 
his followers leaves the hall, blazing with anger. Now no other 
means can be thought of : his mother Gandharl, the " far- 
seeing one ", is sent for, and she begins by reading her husband 
a fitting lesson before all the illustrious lords, and then she orders 
Duryodhana to be at once called. And though he is spitting 

^ For the tale itself cp. e.g. Jat. No. 6 (this one is weak and secondary, 
patched up late from various fragments; for Yaksha's que^ions, Jat.No. 
377); Franke in WZKM, xx, 324 ff. ; Hertcl, Katharatnakara, 
i, 58 ff. ; Dagavataracaritam, viii, 533-540; Holtzmann, Das 
Mah'abhdrata, etc., ii, p. 82, 96, 246 ; my transl. of the Dagakumarac, 
p. 297 ; Crooke, Popular Re/ig., etc., ii, 128. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

with rage like a snake, he obediently comes there, " filled with 
longing for his mother's words." In a long speech she shows 
him how wrong he is, and points out to him that the kingdom 
really belongs to the Pandavas, and that he mu^ be satisfied 
with the half of it, otherwise he will yet lose all through his 
wilfulness and blindness, and bring disa^er on all. But, on the 
one hand, her words are not very motherly and loving in tone, 
on the other the self-willed, angry man is not now disposed to 
li^en to such things ; so he ftorms out again indignantly without 
speaking a word, away to his comrades.^ 

The mother of Old India, like her daughter to-day, shows 
herself fully worthy of this childish love. The Epic, too, offers 
both in the inwoven tales and in the main narrative many heart- 
gladdening pictures of the tender love of the mother, self- 
forgetting and only thinking of the child's welfare. Here only 
one or two features in the life of the leading heroines may be 
given. KuntI, whose youthful adventure with the sun god 
was to bring her so much sorrow throughout her life, had also 
to go through much anxiety, care, and suffering for the sake of 
her other sons.^ In their childhood days they, indeed, already 
gave her many an anxious moment. Bhima was a very 

1 Yudhishtliira, indeed, once^also speaks harshly to his mother. But 
one muft say she had really aded then to all appearance with unwarrant- 
able thoughtlessness (i, 162. 5-1 1). Then we hear from Vidura's 
wise lips : " These six always despise him who earlier has done good 
by them : disciples despise the teacher, when their instruction is 
ended ; the sons the mother, when they have married ; the lover 
the woman, when his love is dead ; they whose business has been 
carried through, him that does it ; he that has crossed the wafte of the 
sea (niftirnakantara, cp. e.g. ' pilot of the wafte ' in the 2nd Jataka), 
the ship ; and the healed sick, the leech " (v, 33.87 f.). Of the lover 
the rule holds all over the world ; Ward especially in his Fiezv of the 
Hindus has tried to show how thankless in general the Hindus are, but 
partly without sufficient warrant ; and Bose, The Hindoos as They Are, 
p. 223 note, has something to say of the married son's contempt towards 
his mother. But it is certain that the son's love for the mother cannot 
be denied of the Indian, and really unique evidence of it is given in 
Samayamatrika, iv, 44-65 (pp. 44-46 in my translation). 

2 " It is decreed of mothers that their birth pangs shall not cease 
until they die." John Galsworthy, The Country House, p. 236. 


Woman as Mother 

high-spirited lad, and as he had the ^rength of a giant, not 
only did he surpass his cousins and play-fellows in all trials of 
^rength and skill, but he picked them out to be the vidims, 
too, of the wilde^ pranks. " By the hair did the ^rong one catch 
hold of them, pulled them headlong down, and dragged them 
screaming along the ground, barking their knees, heads, and 
shoulders. When playing in the water he clasped ten boys 
(at once), took a long dive with them under the water, and only 
let them go when they were half-dead. When they climbed 
trees to look for fruit, Bhima would make the trees quiver 
by kicking them. Then the trees would shake to and fro under 
the wild force of his blows, and the frightened boys would 
soon fall down, together with the fruit" (i, 128.19 ff.). In 
this wise he found he had no friends at all, and Duryodhana 
especially pursued him with a bitter hatred. This cousin now 
one day had splendid " houses of cloths and rugs " made by the 
Ganges, and furnished with choice^ food and heady drinks. 
There the princes then made merry, and threw cakes into one 
another's mouths. Duryodhana kept this game up with BhIma 
a long time with great spirit, for Bhima, the " wolf's belly " 
(Vrikodara), was a mighty eater. But he put poison withal into 
the cakes, and while BhIma lay fa^ asleep, wearied with many 
athletic exercises, and overcome with drunkenness, Duryodhana 
had him bound and thrown into the Ganges without his brothers 
knowing anything about it. When they wanted to go home, they 
could not find him, and the good mother was now in mortal 
anguish, when they came back without him ; for she knew his 
cousin's hatred and cruelty (i, 118 f }. — But they all grew up to 
be ^rong and skilful youths, and at the feftal exhibition, where 
the accomplished sons of Pandu and of Dhritarashtra gave 
a show of their skill, KuntI sat glad and proud among the women 
onlookers. When now Arjuna so greatly distinguished himself 
and was greeted with a ^orm of shouts by the onlookers, then 
did Kuntl's bosom grow wet with the flood of her tears of joy 
(i, 135.13).^ But short was the time her delight la^ed, as we 
1 Her milk also flows from her, as it so often does from the Indian 
mother, even the elderly one, at the sight of her child (e.g. i, 105.26 ; 
135.13; iii, 226.24; vii, 78.16; ix, 44.12. In K, i, 310.13 even 
from a woman that has never brought forth). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

have seen : Karna came onto the ^age, the son of her maiden- 
hood, and the embittered opponent of Arjuna, and challenged 
him to fight. Swooning, the mother of them both sank to the 
ground (i, 136.27 ff.). Together with her sons she was to be 
burned in the house of resin but escaped with them, and now 
shared their wanderings filled with danger and hardship ^ ; 
her splendid children, from whom she had hoped so much, were 
fugitives and beggars, and with them she lived on alms. 
Arjuna's skill with the bow now won the princess Draupadi, 
and in spite of the ^rong opposition of the disillusioned rivals 
they brought home this fair prize of viftory. The mother knew 
nothing of all this, and hovered in the darkness of anguish le^ 
the hostile men or evil spirits had slain the sons who did not 
come back in the evening at the proper time (i, 190.43 ff.}. 
The evil game of dice followed, and the thirteen years' 
banishment of her children. Filled with the sorrow of despair, 
she bade them farewell, and showed herself especially anxious 
on behalf of Sahadeva, the son of her fellow-wife Madrl — 
a complement to the love which the sons in the Epic are wont 
to give the fellow-wives of their mother.^ But not one word of 
reproach again^ Yudh., who has brought about all the wretched- 
ness, escapes from her lips here ; it is only her own, her deserved 
fate that she makes responsible — a true Indian mother (ii, 
79.10 ff.). In the end the great fight blazed up which brought 
her the long wished for triumph of her reviled sons, but along 
with it sorrow abounding beyond words, and so finally, as an 
old woman with her blind brother-in-law and his wife, she 
went off into the penitential foreil — a much-tried, much- 
loving mother, but no weak or faint-hearted one, as we shall 
yet see. Charadlerisdic, too, is Draupadl's behaviour (ii, 
71.26 ff.). She has been gambled away by Yudhishthira, and has 
fallen into slavery and shameful ill-treatment, and Dhritarashtra 

1 The episode of the burning of the house of resin is imitated, 
altered, and further elaborated in the Jain tale in my Hindu Ta/es, 
p. 21 ff. 

2 Passages which there show how attached she is to Sahadeva, 
andhetoher, are ; ii, 79.8, 28 ; 19.32 ff.; v, 90.35-42 (here including 
Nakula, Madri's other son) ; xv, 16.10 ; 26.9 ff. ; xv, 24. espec. 8 ff. ; 
36.36; 39.18. 


Woman as Mother 

now offers her a favour. She says : " Yudhishthira mu^ be 
free, that my son may not be called a slave's son." ^ The 
unmotherly disposition shown by Gandharl towards her son, 
which comes out especially in her sermon to Dhritarashtra, 
ii, 75, ^ands alone, and has been put in her mouth by a calculated 
partisan di^ortion. 

^ The Indian mother likens with greedy ears to the predi6lions 
uttered of her litde son by the wise Brahmans, and hopes for their 
fulfilment later, even when he seems to show no promise whatever 
(v, 134.8, 9). And even of Kunti we read at that teil of her sons in 
doftrine : " But since K. in the mafter of the Angas (in Karna) had 
recognized her son, betrayed by his divine marks, a secret joy glowed 
in her" (i, 137.23). A woman has truly lived when she with her 
husband has praftised the duties of religion, has enjoyed companionship 
with him, and has had children from him (i, 158.33). Parents and 
daughter are saddened beyond measure in this tale, because the father 
mu^ be the food of the Rakshasa. Then the little son runs up to all 
these as they weep, tries to comfort them, takes a hay-^raw, and 
shouts : " I will kill the monger with it ! " And joy shines into the 
darkness of their souls (i, 159.20 f). 



Woman in her Sexual Relations 

WHILE woman in the Indian view is above all 
destined for motherhood, yet this cannot be brought 
about without man, and woman in her sexual relations, 
therefore, makes up an important chapter. Furthermore, there 
is the fad that love and the life of love presents in itself a 
subjeft which is ever new, ever inexhau^ible, ever filled 
with enchantment ; and poetry, moreover, has in more 
senses than one its vital nerve therein. The Epic, too, yields 
many contributions to this theme : tales, sayings, details. But 
in agreement with the Pricier, relatively pure and moral outlook 
governing the Epic poetry, we are not to seek here any 
variegated coUeftion of love and even lecherous adventures, 
allusions, and so forth. Dramas and short plays of adultery, or 
merry cuckold tales are not found in the fare here set before us ; 
and the loose relations, too, between maidens and men, which 
are in many other lands so much a matter of course, and not a 
rare thing in the later Indian literature, are quite foreign to the 
Epic, for all that even Vyasa, the so-called author of the 
Mahabh., and playing no unimportant a part in it, and the hero 
Karna, unsurpassed in Indian literature, are sons of unmarried 
women. We saw, indeed, how they owed their life only to the 
whimof their fathers, and not to the loving choice of their mothers. 
True indeed that also the Epic has in it very many tales and refer- 
ences that in the Western world would be branded as improper. 
But in this a great inju^ice is done them. Such things are almo^ 
always brought forward in all scientific seriousness, and quite 
simply as a matter of fad, as though we were in an anatomical 
ledure-room. The Indian, the old Italian noveli^, a French 
poet of Troubadour times, and, for instance, a Brantome 
can apparently tell us something more or less of the same kind, 
but si duo faciunt, idem non e^ idem. Brantome grunts in his 
slush like five hundred erotomaniac swine ; the fabliau poet 


Woman in her Sexual Relations 

treats us, indeed, to the naftieft filth, sometimes with finesse, but 
often to our ta^e unspeakably gross ; from the Itahan's face 
there not seldom looks out what is rather a very naughty, but 
almo^ innocent child of nature — one might almo^ say urchin — 
and this along with even a fully ripened mind and ftyle. How 
the Old Indian, however, describes such things, at lea^ usually, 
is seen, we hope, clearly enough in this book. Love tales 
of the usual, and above all European kind are, therefore, not 
to be found in the Epic. Love and wedlock here cannot be 
separated.^ The Trojan War came about through a flighty 
wife choosing to let herself be seduced — the struggle between 
the Pandavas and the Kauravas, the subjed of the Mahabh. 
proper, breaks forth, as we are assured several times in the poem, 
because the slight cannot be forgotten which has been ca^ 
on a noble lady, though this can only be looked on as" the ftraw 
that breaks the camel's back ", and in the Ramayana all that is 
really dealt with is the cha^ising of the insolent robber of the 
cha^e Sita, and the setting free of this great lady. The world's 
literature has no more lovely songs of the faithful wife's love 
for her husband than the poem of DamayantI and that of 
SavitrL Both are found in the Mahabh., and they are not the 
only ones to treat of this subjeft. The heroine, moreover, of the 
Ramayana has for thousands of years in India been shining forth 
as a pifture of mort spotless womanhood. 

" When women become ripe for love " — this for the Indian 
is no romance, but a pradical chapter in the physiology of sex. 

^ Love for one's wife is impossible ; this is what the basic principle, 
as we well know, of the old French polite world tells us ; and to-day 
love between husband and wife is ^ill almoft always scorned, particu- 
larly by works of romance, as a subjeft for treatment. But times out 
of count on the other hand we find in Old Indian books, jurt as in the 
Epic : It is on the wife that the attainment of the three great goals of 
life depends — religious merit, worldly gain, and kama (enjoyment, 
love) : and Markandeyapur., xxi, 74 lays down the principle : " With- 
out a wife no love." The man of the world in India — and often enough 
he has his say in Hindu literature — will, it is true, add in brackets 
as an explanation not only : itarasya, the other man's, that is to say, 
the wife or the future wife, as with us, but besides this the main objed 
of Indian eroticism — the harlot. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

This, the mo^ important part of the woman's life, makes its 
appearance with the ritu ; with the ritu love begins, with it it 
ends, in it it has always its central point. Ritu denotes the 
monthly cleansing, and then in particular those days after the 
period, from the fourth day onwards,^ which in the Indian view 
are proper for conception. In what follows I shall use the 
Sanskrit word onlv in the second and narrower meaning. The 
setting in of the menses brings with it not only the capacity 
for the full sexual life, and the right thereto, but fir^ and fore- 
most: the divine call to it, the unavoidable duty. A men^ruating 
girl in a father's house is a heavy sin for him ; the daughter is 
now dedicated to the divinities of married flate. The legal 
provision, therefore, already touched upon often makes its 
appearance, namely that the father shall marry his daughter off 
before the beginning of this time, and then, so soon as she is 
sexually ripe, the husband fetches her home.^ As already 

^ The firft twelve, or according to other flatements, the firft sixteen 
nights after menftruation begins, excluding the three (or four) firft 
nights. Also the eleventh (and the thirteenth) and certain moon-days 
are often put under a ban. Cp. Manu, iii, 45-50 ; iv, 128 ; Jolly, 
" Medizin " (in Biihler's Grundriss), p. 50 ; Winternitz, Die Frau 
i. d. ind. Religionen, p. 32 [6]. See further below. 

2 Pradanarn prag ritoh " the girl mu^ be married before the 
coming of menftruation ". Gautama, xviii, 21 ; so also Vishnu, 
xxiv, 41 ; and in 23 Gaut. gives as the opinion of others : " before 
she wears clothes." This view is also in Vasishtha, xvii, 70 ; Baudh., 
iv, I.I I. Cp. Manu, ix, 88 f. The point Pressed by the law books 
is the fear le^ otherwise the ritu of the young woman be left unused. 
As a matter of faft child marriage is really based not so much on 
religious grounds, as on economic : on the heavy competition in the 
marriage market. The father muft find his daughter a good husband, 
and dare not wait long. This Risley has penetratingly and under- 
ftandingly shown in CaHe in Relation to Marriage (quoted in 
Billington, Woman in India, p. 59 ff.). Love comes, too, according to 
him, in marriage. Indeed, it comes perhaps the more surely juft 
because a very early marriage may keep the girl from falling in love 
elsewhere, and perhaps very foolishly. Anyhow the thing is one that 
commends itself because of this fear too, to those in authority over the 
girl. Cp.Da9akumaracar.,p. 2 8 5,line 27 ff. ofmy translation. Indeed, 
the fear that the daughter may one day bring shame on the family 


Woman in her Sexual Relations 

mentioned, child marriage has no place in the narrative parts 
of the Epic.^ The heroines of the main ^ory and of the inserted 
episodes are already grown upon their marriage, ju^ like the love 
heroines of the ordinary Indian narrative literature (cp. 
Leumann, Die Nonne, ^rophe 122 ff. ; Meyer, Kautilya, 
addit., 246. 1 4). But the Epic also Presses the point that that time, 
the ritu, musl: not slip by without being made use of For the 
woman is there that she may bring forth, and her calling mu^ 
not be barred to her or made harder. Therefore, during each 
ritu not only has she the urge to coition, but for her this is then 
also a holy right and command. 

It is often emphatically laid down that the husband during 
the ritu mu^ visit (ritugamana) the wife, and it is a sin for him 
not to fulfil his married duty then. In Ram., ii, 75 in a long 
imprecatory formula, a very great number of the wor^ sins and 
atrocities is set forth, and in 9I. 52 is mentioned the evil- 
minded man (dushtatman) who does not let his wife have her 
rights, when she has bathed after the monthly cleansing. In 
MBh., vii, 17.28-36 we likewise find ali^ of especially horrible 

through love entanglements is even given as a main reason for the 
killing of girls among the old Arabs {Anthropos, iii, p. 62 if. Perhaps 
a misunderftanding ? Cp. Welhausen, Gott. Nachr. (1893), p. 458). 
Dubois ed. Beauchamp^, p. 207, even ^ates that Indian maidens could 
not be entrufted with their own honour up to their marriageable 
years, since they would not be able to resift temptation. " Therefore 
measures cannot be taken too early to place them intad: in their 
husband's hands." On the other hand he himself declares on p. 314 
that " Hindu women are naturally chafte " ; and on p. 3 54 he remarks 
that they are charter than the women of many lands possessing a 
higher culture. 

1 Bhandarkar in ZDMG, Bd. 47, " Hirtory of Child Marriage," 
has very skilfully defended the rtatement that " in the time of A^va- 
layana and many other authors of Grihyasutras marriages after puberty 
were a matter of course " (p. 153). Mahanirvanatantra, viii, 107, 
seems to be opposed to the marrying of the daughter before she has 
reached ripeness of understanding ; and Narada, who in matters of 
women otherwise shows a remarkably open mind, says she murt: be 
given away when the monthly flow has shown itself (pravritte rajasi) ; 
but what goes before teaches that then this is to be at once 
(xii, 24-27). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

sins, punished with torments in the other world, and among 
them we find the ncgledl to approach the wife at the ritu times.^ 
On the contrary, it is highly virtuous to pradlise love on those 
days with the wife. Subhadra in vii, 78 bewails her son fallen 
in the tender bloom of youth, Abhimanyu, and for him wishes 
in a long drawn out prayer of blessing that he may in the 
world beyond enjoy the happiness to be won through the 
noble^, be^, and moft pious human deeds and thoughts. And 
here she brings this in, too : " Thine be the lot of those that are 
obedient to father and mother, and of those that only find their 
delight with their own wife ; and mayeft thou ha^en towards 
the lot of the wise men who at the time of the ritu go to their 
wife and keep from Grange women " (?1. 31, 32). In the same 
way in xii, 1 10.9 : " They who do as is fitting with their own 
wife at each ritu, and faithfully carry out the sacrifice by fire, 
; overcome disa^ers." Cohabitation in the ritu is one of the 
/ virtues leading to heaven (xiii, 144. 13- 14), and also one of the 
things whereby a (^udra obtains the being born again as a 
Brahman (although not without intermediate ^ages, xiii, 
143.29 ff.). But on the other hand it is then found to be an 
ethical command that the husband keep not only from all 
other women, but from his own wife, too, outside the ritu 
or ritukala (time of the ritu). He that obeys this law pradises 
charity, is equal in virtue to him that wholly ab^ains. So, for 
in^ance, in xiii, 162.41,42. Cp. iii, 208.15 ; 207.33 ; xiii, 
157.9 ff. ; xii, 1 93. 1 1. Charity has two forms : monaJ\icism, 
and copulation in the ritu only (Ram., i, 9.5, and comment.}. 
" How does one become a brahmacarin (sexual ascetic) ? " 
Yudhishthira asks Bhishma, and the answer is : " Let a man 
go to his own wife during the ritu " (xii, 221. 1 1). In xii, 243, 
the holy duties of the father of the family are enumerated, and 
there in <;\. 7 we find : " Let him call his wife only at the 
time of the ritu (nanritau)." In xiii, 93. 1 24, copulation outside 
the ritu is set beside killing a cow and relieving the body into 
water, and in 94.27 it ^ands along with the denial of the divine 

11 Whoso does not know his wife carnally during the ritu mu^ 
suffer the pains of hell. Mark.-Pur., xiv, i ff. ; Garudapuranasarod., 
iv, 40 ; Para9ara, iv, 1 2 f. (the wife that forgets her duty goes to hell, 
the husband who does so becomes an embryo-slayer), etc. 


Woman in her Sexual Relations 

revelation of the Veda. The ethical ^andpoint is given, for 
in^ance, by the fine saying in xii, 1 10.23 : " He who eats only 
to maintain life, who copulates only to beget offspring, who 
speaks only to utter the truth — he escapes vexations." ^ 

Sexual union not from the fire of love, but only during the 
ritu is the old and holy rule for all the four ca^es, too, which 
prevailed in the golden age ; and great was the blessing. Thus, 
i, 64.4 ff. tells us : When Para^urama had de^royed all the 
Kshattriyas in the world, the Kshattriya women to get children 
approached the Brahmans. With them the pious Brahmans 
united at every ritu, but not from greed of love, nor at any other 
time. The Kshattriya women now bore offspring ^rong and 
long-lived beyond the ordinary, and all creatures ever kept to 
the pious rule of rightful copulation, even the beafts. So, then, 
they went to their wives during the ritu only, then they throve 
through their virtuous ways and lived a hundred thousand years. 
From all pain, of mind and body, mankind was freed ; none 
died in childhood ; none that had not reached the bloom of 
youth knew woman (na ca ftriyarn prajanati ka^cid aprap- 
tayauvanah, 9I. 17). They pradlised all that was fair, good, and 
pious ; the kings ruled with ju^ice ; and so it rained at the 
right time and in the right place, and everywhere prevailed 
nothing but happiness, and ftrength and peace — it was the 
golden age. Such glory as this was naturally in the firft place 
due to the mo^ excelling begetters of this race, the Brahmans, 
but then, too, to their way of begetting virtuous, strong, and 
beautiful offspring. At this time the woman is not only well 
fitted and with the right and duty to procreate, but also she is 
clean. Otherwise uncleanness dwells in her, and every kind 
of magical harm,- and in the peculiarly myfterious men^rual 
blood are concentrated all these dread powers, but in it, too, 
they are discharged. Therefore, the Epic declares, too : " This 
according to the law is an incomparable means of cleansing the 
woman, O Dushyanta ; for month after month the menstrual 

^ For the sake of offspring was the coitus made. K. i, 107.21. 
, ^ This behef, spread over the whole earth, has its place, too, in 
the Old Indian marriage-songs, and in the wedding ritual ((^ahkhy.- 
Grihy., i, 16, 2 if.; 18, 2 ff. ; Parask., i, 1 1 ; Hirany., i, 6, 20.2 ; 
7. 24). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

blood takes all the evil in them away " (duritani in the magical 
and in the moral meaning, K., i, 100.5). Indeed, even if the 
man suspefts his vi^ife of unfaithfulness, he muft confidently 
lie with her again after she has had her courses, since she is 
thereby cleansed again, like a vessel by ashes (xii, 35.30).^ 
So, therefore, the woman can for this reason, too, demand 
her natural and religious rights during the ritu. 

And she wills to have them : " As the fire at the time of the 
sacrifice by fire awaits its time (the time when the offering 
shall be brought it), so the woman awaits in the time of the 
ritu tie ritu embrace" (xiii, 162.41). Riturn dehi, the 
men^ruating woman says to the husband, " give me the ritu 
right, the ritu embrace, make that my ritu may not be in vain." 
So it is in the following tale. As we have seen, the energetic 
daughter of a Brahman, DevayanI, made the king Yayati 
her husband. Her father ^raitly enjoined on him not to 
touch her friend and slave-girl, the king's daughter Qarmishtha. 
(^armishtha saw that the time of her ripeness was come, and she 
thought of her period. " The time of the ritu is come, and I 
have chosen no husband. What is fitting now, what is to be 
done now ? What am I to do that the matter may be truly 
done ? DevayanI has borne, but I am become ripe to no end. 
As she chose her husband, so will I choose him. The king 
muft grant me the fruit of a son ; that is my fa^ resolve. And 
now at this very time perhaps he of the ju^ heart will secretly 
come before my eyes." And about this time the king happened 
to go forth, and tarried near the a^oka-wood (where the fair 
one was dwelling), and gazed at Carmishtha. When the sweet- 
smiling (^armishtha secretly saw him thus alone, she went up 
to him, folded her hands before her forehead, and sooke the 
words unto the king : " Who can visit a woman in the house 
of Soma, Indra, Vishnu, Yama, and Varuna, or in thine, O son 
of Nahusha ? Thou knowe^ that I am ever gifted with beauty, 
nobility, and good chara(5ler. I pray thee, as I ask thy favour 
of thee : Give me the ritu, O highe^ herdsman of men ! " 
Yayati spoke : " I know thee to be perfedled in good chara6ler, 

^ The parallels v/ill be given later. We even encounter a belief 
that intercourse with the adulteress is magically dangerous to her 
husband. Hartland, Prim. Patern., ii, 122. 


Woman in her Sexual Relations 

thou faultless daughter of the Daitya. And in thy form I cannot 
see a needle's point of anything that were to blame. But 
U^anas, the Kavya, said, when I brought DevayanI home : 
' This daughter of Vrishaparvan shalt thou not call onto thy 
bed.'" ^armishtha spoke : " An untrue word spoken in je^, ' 
or among women, or at a wedding, or when in danger of life, I ^ 
or where all a man's belongings are to be taken from him, does I 
no hurt. These five lies, it is said, are not grave sins (patakani)." | 
Yayati spoke : " The king is the law of life for beings ; he 
falls to de^rudion, when he utters untruth ; even though 
earthly ill ^ befall me, I cannot adl falsely." (^armishtha . 
spoke: "These two are held to be identical : one's own husband, 
and the husband of the woman friend. Marriage, it is said, 
is the same for both (one and the same, common, sama). Thee, 
as the husband of my friend, I have chosen." Yayati spoke : 
" To him that asks mu^ be given, this rule of life I have taken 
for mine.- And thou art asking me for the fulfilment of a wish. 
Speak, what can I do for thee ? " ^armishtha spoke : " Keep 
me from a wrong, O king, and let me share in the law ^ ; 
granted offspring by thee, let me pradlise in the world the highest 
holy law. Three there are, O king, that cannot own anything : 
the wife, the slave, and the child ; that which they acquire is 
the property of him who owns them.* I am the slave of 
DevayanI, and she is in thy power ; I and she belong to thee 
for thy pleasure ; enjoy me, O king." Thus addressed, the 
king acknowledged this, and said : " True it is " ; he honoured 
^armishtha, and let her share in the holy law. She then bore 
him a lotus-eyed boy like a child of the gods, and then two 
more besides. But DevayanI found out these deeds of pious 
devotion,^ and at fir^ bitterly reproached (^armishtha. But 

1 Arthakricchra. "^ h% d. Kshattriya. 

^ Or : set me on the path of the law (the fulfilment of the law, 
virtue). In K. (76.30 ff.) she furthermore explains that he who gives 
clothing, money, cows, land, etc., gives something external ; it is a 
serious thing to give oneself, one's body, that is, to beget a child 
for a woman. 

* Cp. e.g. Manu, viii, 416 ; Narada, v, 41. 

^ Devayani once went for a ^roll with the king. Then she saw the 
three Htde boys playing, and said in a^onishment : " Whose children 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

she made answer : " I have adted in accordance with law 
and virtue, and therefore I fear thee not. When thou did^ 
choose thy husband, I, too, chose him. For the husband, 
according to the law, becomes the friend's husband. Thou art 
for me worthy of honour and respeft, thou art the firft wife 
and the Brahman lady, but for me ftill worthier of honour is 
the kingly Rishi ; how do^ thoii not know that ? " With 
weeping eyes and angry soul DevayanI now ha^ened off to 
her father, and complained to him that right had been over- 
come by wrong, for Carmishtha had outdone her and 
humiliated her : with ^armishtha Yayati had begotten three 
sons, and with her herself only two.^ The king, who had 
hastily followed her, made excuses : " Because she asked me 
for the ritu, O holy man, and from no other reason did I do 
this rightful service to the daughter of the Danava prince. 
If a woman asks for the ritu, and a man does not give her the 
ritu, then by them that know the holy writings he is declared 
to be an embryo-slayer. And he who, having been secretly 
asked, does not approach a woman that is seized with desire 
and is meet for union, is, in the laws, called by the wise a 
slayer of the fruit of the body. These considerations I had before 
me, and, moved by fear of doing a wrong, I went to 
(^armishtha." But with the angry father, deeply devoted to his 
daughter, these considerations availed not (i, 82, 83). 

At such times the woman will even lure an unhappy disciple 
into the awful crime of adultery with the teacher's wife. The 
prose tale in i, 3.42 ff. tells us as follows : The Rishi Dhaumya 
had to be away from home for a long time, and entru^ed his 

are those ? They look so like thee." She asked the boys themselves, 
and they pointed with their fingers to Yayati as their father, and 
said (^armishtha was their mother. They all ran up to their begetter ; 
but he " did not in the presence of his wife welcome them at all joy- 
fully ", but was " as it were filled with shame ", and the poor repulsed 
little boys ran screaming to their mother. 

^ This outdoing in child-bearing, and the sorrow and rage of the 
woman thus injured reminds us of Kunti and Madri and of i Moses, 
chap. 30, v, 1-23 (that here the children of the concubine or of the 
secondary wife are looked on as the children of the lawful wife has 
not only Indian but also other Eaftern parallels). 


Woman in her Sexual Relations 

disciple Uttanka with the care of the house ; he was to see to 
it that no harm came. While he was dwelling there, all the 
wives of the teacher together called him and spoke : " The 
teacher's wife has the ritu, and the teacher is away. Do thou 
so adl that her ritu be not fruitless ; she is in despair." Thus 
addressed, he made answer : " I mu^ not at the urging 
of women do this mon^rous deed. For the teacher did not 
enjoin on me : ' Even a mon^rous deed shalt thou do.' " 
When the teacher then came home again, and learned from him 
what had happened, he rewarded him moft magnificently, but 
the woman took her revenge by and by, when she found the 

King Uparicara was more thoughtful and kindlier to women 
than this holy man and his disciple, for he sent off the longed 
for fluid to his beloved wife at this critical time by bird poft. 
At the bidding of his forefathers, he had to go off to hunt, ju^ 
when his wife was ready for impregnation (ritusnata).^ Now 
he was roving the fore^, obedient to the call of his forefathers, 
but his thoughts were away at home with Girika, his young 
beloved one, who was surpassingly lovely, like unto another 
LakshmL Spring had made its entry, and the trees were glorious 
with the splendour of their flowers and their weight of fruit ; the 
kokilassang their sweeteft, and, all around, the honey-drunken 

^ The reason would be the same as in Mark. -Pur., cxx, 6 : King 
Khaninetra, who has no son, goes hunting to get flesh to offer his 
forefathers, and through this sacrifice a son. Cp. Caland, Ahnenkult, 
p. .172. The flesh of various kinds of game and tame hearts is used 
for an offering to the dead, and nourishes them for far longer than many 
other foods, as is carefully reckoned up for each kind of flesh in the 
Smriti and in the Puranas,and elsewhere, I think; and as, according to a 
widespread belief, children are only the dead appearing again, especially 
kindred and forbears, or else the shades send or beftow the children, 
we cannot but hold the Indian belief to be quite natural, that the 
^raddha give their help towards getting offspring. See, for example, 
Albrecht Dietrich, " Mutter Erde," Arch.f. Re/igionswiss., vii, 19 ff., 
39-43 ; Hartland, Prim. Pat., i, 199 ff. ; Crooke, Pop. Pel., i, 179 ; 
Krauss, Sitte u. Branch d. Sudslawen, 542 ; Anthropos, vii, 99 ; 658 ; 
iv, 710 ; v, 765 ; Zsc/ir.f. EtknoL, Bd. 6, p. 363 ; Gobhila, Grihyas., 
iv, 3.27 ; Caland, Ahnenkult, 8 ; 10 ; 13 ; 43 ; 73, n. 3 ; 10, n. 2 ; 
Totenverehrung, 6, 39, etc. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

bees were humming. By love his soul was held, but he could not 
see Girika. As he went along thus tortured with longing, he 
happened to behold a delightful a^oka-tree ; the tips of its 
boughs were ^rewn with flowers, young shoots adorned it, 
and it was covered with clu^ering blossoms, honey-sweet 
was the smell of it, and it charmed by the scent of its 
flowers. Under this tree the prince of men sat himself down, 
taking his ease in the shade. But inspired by the wind, he gave 
himself up to the joyful lufl: after darkness' deed (sexual union). 
Then his seed spurted forth, as he tarried in the thick foreft. 
And as soon as the seed had spurted out, the lord of the earth 
put it on the leaf of a tree, thinking with himself : " My 
seed shall not fall fruitlessly." " This seed of mine shall not have 
spurted forth to no end," that was his thought. " And may 
my wife's ritu not be lo^," this was the thought of the ruler. 
As now the prince thus pondered and weighed, and as the be^ 
of kings recognized the fruitfulness of the seed, and refledled 
that it was the right time to send it to his wife, therefore 
he now uttered a spell over it with holy words, went to 
a swift-flying falcon that was landing afar off, and said to 
him, who knew the delicate essence of religious duty and of 
worldly advantage : " My friend, carry thou this seed into 
my house. Hand it over speedily to Girika ; for now is the very 
time of her ritu." The falcon, the impetuous one, took it, 
flew swiftly up, ha^ened away with his utmost speed of flight ; 
thus did the air-wanderer. Then another falcon saw this falcon 
coming, who at once, when he saw him, swooped down on him, 
for he thought he was carrying a piece of flesh. Then the two 
Parted to fight in the air with their beaks. As they fought, the 
seed fell down into the waters of the Yamuna. And lo ! in it 
was living an Apsaras in the shape of a she-fish by Brahma's 
curse, who swallowed the seed. In the tenth month after this had 
happened the fish was caught and cut open. They found in its 
body a boy and a girl. The girl became the famed SatyavatI, at 
firft afflided by a fishy smell, whom then the king, her father, 
handed over to a fisherman, and who, while she was working 
the ferry for him, gave the gift of life to Vyasa. The boy, her 
brother, as King Matsya (" Fish "), prince of the Fish-folk 
(Matsya), won himself a name (i, 63.36 ff.). 


Woman in her Sexual Relations 

But sexual intercourse with the ^ill unclean woman is 
^riftly forbidden. To have connexion with a woman during 
the monthly flow is reckoned among the dreadful crimes set 
forth in Arjuna's formula of self-cursing (xii, 73.42). To visit 
a rajasvala (menstruating woman) is one of the seven things 
whereby a man forfeits his happiness or long life (xiii, 104. 150; 
xvi, 8. 5, 6), and Brahmans who thus fall appear as sinners 
(papakarmin) in xii, 165.26. Cp. e.g. also xiii, 157.9 ^- The 
Apsarases by Brahma's order had to take on themselves a fourth 
part of the murder of a Brahman, which weighed so heavily 
on Indra. They besought the father of the worlds to think 
out some means to free them from it. He answered : " He that 
has connexion with men^ruating women, on to him will it 
(the Brahman-murder) immediately be transferred. Let your 
souls' torment forsake you ! " (xii, 282.43 ff.). He that goes 
to a woman that mu^ not be visited (agamya) shall, as a penance, 
for six months wear a wet garment and sleep on ashes (xii, 
35.35). The agamya are of very different kinds, but among 
them is the rajasvala.^ Cp. vii, 73.38 ff. ; Manu, xi, 1 71-179. 
The mere presence of the woman with such a ^ain is noxious. 
What she looks at the gods will not take in sacrifice 
(xiii, 127.13). She mu^ not be in the neighbourhood of the 
ancestral offering (xiii, 92.15 ; K, xiii, 238.18), otherwise 
the forefathers will be unappeased even for thirteen years 
(xiii, 127.13, 14). For the Brahman only that food is clean on 
which the eyes of a menstruating woman have not fallen 
(xiii, 104.40 and Nil.). Food thus spoiled is the very portion 
of the demons (xiii, 23.4). What the rajasvala has 
prepared muSt not be enjoyed (xiii, 104.90 and comment.). 
It is even forbidden to speak with her (xiii, 104.53).^ See also 

^ The agamya reckoned in the law books come, indeed, moftly 
under the conception of inceft or the Gaining of the teacher's marriage- 
bed. See, for inftance, Baudh., ii, 2, 4.1 1 ; Narada, xii, 73 fF. 

2 The uncleanness and danger ascribed by various peoples to the 
men^ruating woman and her discharge is indeed well known. It 
^rikes us then as remarkable that the Aino are not frightened by any 
such superftition {^Anthropos, v, 774). According to a Red Indian tale 
pubhshed by Boas, Zschr.f. Ethnol., xxiii, p- 5 52 (" Abhandlungen "), 
if some rnen^rual blood is put among the tobacco, then three puifs 

I 225 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

iii, 221.27; MBh. K.,xiv, 116.19 f. ; 109.22; 112.46; xiii, 
1 6 I.I 18; Negelein, Traumschlussel der 'Jagaddeva^ p. 375. 

from his pipe are sufficient to cause a man to fall down dead. 
Cp. Ploss-Bartels *, i, 323 ff. Even the glance of the woman is at this 
time full of deadly poison (Hertz, " Die Sage vom Giftmadchen," 
Abh. d. Miinchncr Jk., xx, 109). Cp. Thur^on, Omens, etc., pp. 
1 8 5-6. And this super^ition is by no means confined to the uneducated 
even in our own days. Only a few years ago, I am informed by 
one present, the following happened in an English boarding-school 
for " young ladies " : The cook had her courses, and therefore did 
not dare to touch the meat, as it would thus be spoiled. In her 
difficulty she called in the head miftress. But, as it happened, she too 
was indisposed. She called one or two of the teachers. But a spiteful 
fate willed it that they, too, at that very time had to pay their debt 
to woman's nature. The meat, therefore, could not be cut up and made 
ready, to the greatest joy of the very avaricious head of this hungry 
institution ; and the butcher had to be told to take his meat back 
again for once. 

In the Indian law writings, too, the precept is found that a 
men^ruating woman muft not be approached ; and whoever so offends 
muft, according to Yajnav., iii, 288 faft and eat ghl for three days. 
The woman muft not inflift her presence on others at this time ; detailed 
rules for her behaviour are given, e.g. in Vasishtha, v, 9.5 fF. ; cp. 
Paragara, vii, 9-18. She was kept away from the ance^ral sacrifice 
(Mark. -Pur., xxxii, 25) ; her very glance makes unclean (ibid., 1, 47 ; 
Dubois-Beauchamp, 347, cp. 708-10) ; even speaking to her sullies 
(Apa^., i, 3, 9.13), and food she has touched muft not be eaten 
(Vasishtha, v, 7 ; Yajnav., i, 168 ; Manu, iv, 208 ; Vishnu, h, 
16; etc.). If she wilfully touches a twice-born man, she shall be 
flogged with a whip (Vishnu, v, 105). It should be said that Brihaspati 
tells us that the women " in the north " have sexual intercourse 
during their period (ii, 30), but this, at any rate, is probably not 
Aryan India. That the monthly issue is a mark of sin, but also a setting 
free from ill, that it is, indeed, a third or fourth part of the murder of 
a Brahmart, is often asserted with the legend belonging thereto. So 
Vasishtha, v, 4 ff. ; and here the following account according to 
Taitt.-Sarnh., ii, 5, 1.2-5 ^^ given : Indra, tortured by the murder 
of a Brahman, unloaded a third of his guilt onto women, but for this 
he had to grant them the grace that they should get children from their 
husbands during the ritu. On the other hand in accord with a true 
Indian view we are told as follows in Bhagavatapur., vi, 9.9 : For the 
boon of conftant enjoyment of love (or : to be allowed to live after 


Woman in her Sexual Relations 

their own desires ? ^a^vatkamavarena) women took on themselves 
a quarter of the sin ; this is seen in them month after month in the 
form of the men^rual blood. But the woman in this wise is fully 
rid of the sins she has herself done, particularly those of sex, as has been 
already e^ablished from the MBh. (p. 219). With this the law litera- 
ture and the Purana literature is in agreement. The monthly flow 
cleanses her from married unfaithfulness (vyabhicara), Yajnav., i, 72 ; 
Agnipur., clxv, 6 f. (where we mu^ read na tyajed) ; 19 ff. ; from 
pollution in thought, Manu, v, 108 ; Vishnu, xxii, 91 ; cp. Para^ara, 
vii, 2 ; X, 12. Baudhayana, ii, 2, 4.4 teaches that women have an 
incomparable means of cleansing, they are never wholly Gained ; 
for month after month their sin is carried away. Exaftly the same in 
Vasishtha, xxviii, 4, and essentially the same in v, 4 ; iii, 58. Hence, 
then, comes the ordinance in Paragara, x, 16-19 : The woman who 
does wrong with a Candala (pariah) muft confess her guilt before a 
gathering often Brahmans, then faft a day and night plunged up to the 
neck in a well with cow-dung, water, and mud, then shave her head 
quite bald, and live outside the house pradising further mortifications 
and cleansing ads, up to the time of her period ; then she is clean, 
but muft furthermore give food to Brahmans, and beftow a pair 
of oxen. According to 20, however, she is absolved through the 
Candrayana vow. Vasishtha, xxviii, i fF. even declares : The woman 
even through a lover becomesnomore unclean than water throughurine 
and dung, than fire through rubbish it destroys ; no matter how bad 
she may be, or what adventures she may have experienced, let her 
husband wait till she gets her courses ; through these she then becomes 
spotless again. Before this, as a maid, she has already belonged to 
Soma, Gandharva, and the fire god, to them that hallow, and cannot 
after that be polluted by the faft of going from hand to hand — a 
conception to be discussed in another connexion. According to 
Para9ara, x, 20, woman is like the earth, and can never become wholly 
unclean. Women, water, and pearls are never spoiled, as we have 
already been told. Cp. Muir, Metrical Translations, p. 277 f. Her 
mouth, that is, her kiss, is always clean, happen what may (Manu, v, 
130 ; Yajnav., i, 187 ; Vishnu, xxiii, 49; etc.), and she herself during 
the pleasures of love (Vasishtha, xxviii, 8 ; Baudh., i, 5, 9.2). Paragara, 
viii, 34, declares that a woman, a child, and an old man are never 
unclean. Qri, the goddess of happiness, abides, indeed, in the body of 
wedded and unwedded women (Vishnu, xcix, 8 ff.). A marriageable 
woman who is not actually having her period is the godlike draught 
of immortality (Vasishtha, v, i). Indeed, Vasishtha, xxviii, 9, 
proclaims : Woman is pure in all her limbs, while the cow is pure 
only behind (cp. Meyer, Altind. Rechtsschr., 146). Then there are 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

views which also give other reasons for this monthly purgatorium 
terreHre et naturale of woman, which is generally looked on as so 
uncanny and fraught with evil. Markandeyapur., xlix, 8 fF., relates : 
In the beginning, women knew nothing of this contrivance of nature, 
but in spite of copulation they got no children. Later the passion of 
love (raga) came into the world, and then, with it, both the woman's 
period, and offspring through the sexual union ; for till then propagation 
had only been by means of concentrated thought (dhyanena 
manasa), and that very sparingly (ii; cp. this book, p. 370). 
Cp. the already mentioned passage in Vasishtha, v, 4 ff., and 
its source. As is clear enough from the puberty cu^oms, savages, too, 
know that the monthly flow is needful for impregnation. See further 
Anthrofios, v, p. 772 f. ; vi, 703. The American Indians quoted 
in the lafl-named reference share moreover the belief that this flow 
is firft called forth through sexual intercourse. It would thus be the 
holy duty of the girl to indulge in love in good time. It is no wonder 
that evil spirits, then, di^urb and destroy this blessed monthly aft. 
See, for instance, Mark.-Pur., li, 42 ff. ; 1 14 ff. Cp. also Winternitz, 
Altind. Hochzeiisrituell, pp. 92-95. 



The Pleasures of Sex (surata) 

ON the fourth day, however, the woman becomes snata, 
ritusnata (one that has bathed), and thereby pecuHarly / 
fitted for the delights of love, the surata. The woman ^ands / 
in very great need of them ; without them she pines : • 
asambhogo jara ^rlnarn (want of sexual enjoyment is decay 
and old age for women, iv, 39.78b— 79a ; v, 39.78, 79).^ 
In the Indian view the woman has also a far Wronger erotic ; 
disposition, and her delight in the sexual adl is far greater than , 
the man's. This is shown, indeed, in the Epic, in the tale of the 
king who was changed into a woman. It will be given later on. 
We can thus understand Lopamudra's whim (iii, 97 ff.) : 

The great saint, and arti^ in dige^ion Agaftya wishes to 
wed, and woos Lopamudra, the bewitchingly lovely princess of 
Vidarbha, brought up in the greate^ luxury and ease. The 
father is not over-delighted with the proposal, and will not agree, 
but is afraid of the anger and curse of this powerful one. Then 
his daughter comes to him in his sorrow, and speaks : " Do 
not digress thyself because of me. Give me to Aga^ya, and save 
thyself through me, O father." So she is wedded to the Rishi. 
But when Aga^ya had taken Lopamudra to wife, he spoke unto 
her : " Lay aside these coftly garments and ornaments." Then 
she, with the great eyes, with thighs like banana-^ems, laid 
aside her garments so splendid to see, so coftly and thin. Then 
she put on clothes of rags, ba^, and skins, and together with him 
led a ^ridt life of religion, she the lovely one with the great 
eyes. The beft of Rishis went to Garigadvara, and there gave 
himself up to the harde^ penance together with his obedient 

^ " Mankind is made old (is worn down) by care, the warrior by / 
fetters, woman by a life without coition, and clothes by the glow off 
fire." Thus a saying of Canakya. See Kressler, Stimmen indischer 
Lebensklugheit, Leipzig, 1907, p. 159; cp. Garudapur., 11 5.10; 
Ram., iv, 35.9 ; etc. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

wife. Filled with joyful love and lofty regard she served her 
ma^er, and Aga^ya, the lord, showed glad love towards his 
wife. Then the glorious Rishi saw that Lopamudra, shining with 
ascetic praftice, had already bathed some time (after her period).^ 
Gladdened by her deeds of service, her purity, self-control, 
splendour, and beauty, he invited her to unite. Then, folding 
her hands before her forehead, as though filled with shame, the 
fair one spoke these words lovingly to the holy man : " Doubt- 
less the husband wedded the wife for the sake of offspring. But 
the joyful love I bear to thee, that do thou (too) pradlise, 

Rishi. On juft such a couch as I had at home in my father's 
palace, do thou visit me. And decked with divine ornaments 

1 would fain glide unto thee according to my wish, thou, too, 
wreathed and decked. Otherwise, clad in the brown-red 
penitential garb of rags, I will not approach thee. Of a truth 
this adornment (the ascetic garb) muft not be soiled in any way 
whatever." - Agaftya spoke : " I have not indeed such treasures 
for thee, Lopamudra, as thy father has, thou slender one." 
Lopamudra spoke : " Through thy asceticism thou, rich in 
asceticism, ha^ full power to procure anything in a moment, 
whatsoever things there are in the world of the living." Aga^ya 
spoke : " It is as thou saye^. But through such a thing 
(that is, through the making use of the Yoga powers) ascetic 
merit is de^royed. Give me some bidding whereby my 
penitential merit shall not be lo^." Lopamudra spoke : " Of 
my ritu time there is only very little left, O thou rich in penance. 
And in other wise I have not the slightest wish to approach 
thee. I would indeed in no way de^roy thy religious perfection 

^ Taking 9I. 23 into account this is perhaps less likely thus : He 
saw after some time that she had bathed (bahutithe kale). Cp. the 
bahutithe 'hani in i, 108.3, already known from the song of Nala 
(ix, 12). 

^ During sexual union the father of the family mu^ have on a 
special garment, only to be used for this purpose. Apa^amba, ii, 
I, 1.20. And when ^udying the Veda he muft not wear anything 
he has worn during copulation. Manu, iv, 116; Vasishtha, xiii, 
26 (here : unless it has been washed). As to ornaments at this time 
cp. Meyer, Altind. Rechtsschr., 8 ; 1 2 f. ; 376 f. ; also Jolly, " Medizin " 
(in the Grundriss), p. 38. 


The Pleasures of Sex 

(dharma), but prithee bring that about which I wish." Agastya 
spoke : " If thou, O lovely one, art so set in thy heart upon 
this wish, then I will go and seek, my loved one. Do thou 
^ay here, and live as thou wilt." 

Then the complaisant husband went off to three kings 
one after the other to ask for what he needed. All three 
welcomed him mo^ reverently at the extreme frontiers of the 
land, and put all their possessions at his disposal. But each time 
the holy man saw that their income and their expenditure exadlly 
balanced one another, and he had no wish to bring hurt on 
living beings by having in such a case taken anything for 
himself Accompanied by the firft king, he came to the second, 
then together with these two to the third ; and now together 
with the three and on their sugge^ion he went on to the 
exceedingly rich Daitya Ilvala, well known for his malicious 
wickedness towards the Brahmans. He had been angered by 
one of the prie^Iy ca^e, who would not grant him a son equal 
to Indra. He now magically changed his younger brother 
Vatapi into a goat, slaughtered him, made him ready, and set 
him before the Brahman. When the Brahman had eaten him, 
the other called back to life him that was eaten, and the laughing 
monger that came walking out from the belly naturally thereby 
split his ho^ in twain. Thus did Ilvala slay many Brahmans. 
When Agaftya, with the three kings, now offered himself as 
his gueft, to him too did he dish up his brother, magically turned 
into a goat and daintily made ready, and great was the fear of 
the three brave warriors when the good holy man ate the dish 
up quite calmly. But the wicked man this time had fallen into 
his own trap : in answer to his wonted loud " Vatapi, come 
out ! " there came from under the high-souled one a wind 
with a mighty roar, like a thundering cloud. ^ When he went on 

^ No wonder that the genius of digeftion, Agaftya (Wilson's 
Vishnup., iii, p. 128) shows such an overflowing health. As among the 
peasants in Zola's La terre, and elsewhere in the world, things all go 
their good way amid this blessed noise as the body is thus eased, so, 
too, the Indian sees in it a token of food well taken and of the favour 
of the gods, and, in faft, of general present and future happmess. 
See Dubois-Beauchamp ^, p. 329 ; Schmidt, Lieie u. Ehe in Indien, 
p. 397 ; E. Thur^on, Omens, etc. (191 2), p. 26. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

calling to arouse his brother again, the pious belly-hero laughed 
him to scorn, and let him know that the brother had long ago 
been digested. ^ The Daitya prince was beaten and humbly 
offered his services. Aga^ya demanded for each of the three 
kings ten thousand oxen, and the same number of gold pieces, 
but for himself twice as much, and a golden chariot forthwith, 
with two fleet fteeds before it, swift as thought. All this the 
poor demon had to give, and with the three kings and all the 
treasure the holy artist in eating and drinking drove into his 
hermitage. Then there was nothing more to ^and in the way 
of the longed for love union. Lopamudra got her princessly 
wish and a lu^y son. 

We are told, too, of a fair one who reached a remarkably 
high pitch of virtue in the pleasures of love. King Parlkshit 
rides off at full speed in the forest, lo^ by his retinue, and follows 
after a gazelle. Thus he is carried far away. Hungry, thirfty, 
and wearied, he sees there in the thicket an enchanting lake, 
covered with lotus-flowers. He throws his horse some of the 
lotus-^alks and sits down to re^. Then he hears sweet singing. 
As no human traces are anywhere to be seen, the king is filled 
with wonder, follows the voice, and finds a wondrous-fair 
maiden singing and plucking flowers. He woos her, and she 
consents, on condition that water mufb never be shown her. 
The king promises this, and so she becomes his wife. Mean- 
while his followers come up, and she is borne in the litter to the 
royal city. Here Parlkshit lives with her in great joy. But the 
miniver has a delightful grove with a splendid tank laid out, 
and when the king goes to walk in it with his beloved, and sees 
the tank, he asks her to go down into the water. She goes down 
below, but does not. come up again. The king in despair has 
the water drawn off from the tank : they find only a frog. 
" The frogs have eaten my beloved ! " the king cries, and 
orders -a general slaughter of the frogs in his kingdom. Then the 
king of the frogs comes in ascetic garb, shows the prince the 
wrong he is doing, and tells him that the lady is his daughter 
Su^obhana, who has already befooled many kings. On 

^ Another time Agaftya drank up the ocean, and dige^ed it, to 
the terror of the gods, only too quickly, so that they did not know now 
how they should fill the mighty bed again with water (i, 105). 


The Pleasures of Sex 

Parlkshit's beseeching him, he gives her to him as wife. And 
when the king had received her, it was to him as though he 
had won the lordship of the three worlds ; for his heart was hers 
because of her surpassing excellences in the surata ; and with 
words choked with tears of joy he went down, did reverence 
to the king of the frogs, and said : " I thank thee " ^ 
(iii, 1 92. 1 ff.). 

That the di^urbance of the enjoyment of sex was felt 
as especially inhuman can be easily underwood. King 
Kalmashapada (" Pied Foot "),2 who had had the curse of 
man-eating laid on him, comes upon a Brahman and his 
wife in the fore^, engaged in the joys of love. They flee 
in terror before the business is brought to its end. But the 
man-eater runs after them and falls on the Brahman. The wife 
beseeches him with tears to have pity on his vidim, for she is 
not yet satisfied, has her ritu, and wishes for a child. But the 
king's mind is shaken by the curse, and he eats the Brahman. 
Angry tears run down from the poor wife's face, and turn to 
fire which sets the whole neighbourhood alight. Then she curses 
him : " Since thou before my very eyes, before my business 
was done, haft eaten my husband, thou wilt leave thy life when 

1 Literally : " I have been granted a favour." This and like 
expressions are quite regular, and may be compared with the regular 
German " genade ! " (French, merci) of the Middle Ages. 

2 This prince when hunting in the fore^ met (Jakti, the eldeft son 
of that Vasishtha held by him in high honour. He ordered the Muni 
to give him the path. But the Muni insifted that under the eternal 
law the Kshattriya muft give way to the Brahman. (Cp. Apaft., ii, 
5, 1 1.5, and parallels). So they went on wrangling; at length the 
angry king ftruck the price's son with his whip " like a Rakshasa ", 
and had the curse put on him by the insulted inan that he should eat 
human flesh " Hke a Rakshasa " — one of those curses by holy men and 
Brahmans which almoft always bring down misfortune on the innocent. 
But in this case a kind of Grange Nemesis was at v/ork : the firft 
vidim of the new monger was Qakti himself, then he was followed by 
his ninet}'-nine brothers into Kalmashapada's maw (i, 176). According 
to Brihaddevata, vi, 28 these 100 sons were slain by the Saudasas 
(sons or followers of Sudas) ; according to Sayana on Rigveda, vii, 
104.2 it was a Rakshasa. Cp. Muir, Original Sanskrit Texts, i, 
p. 326 fF. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

thou drawe^ nigh to thy wife during the ritu. But Vasishtha 
will beget thee an heir." Then she throws herself into the fire 
and is burned. Kalmashapada's wife is with him, and later she 
keeps him away, when he has got his wits back again, but not 
the memory of this event, and now wishes to approach her during 
the ritu. In his fear of dying he ftands aside, and gives Vasishtha 
the conjmission (i, 182).^ 

The, in parts very clumsy, legend of Pandu seems to be an 
imitation of this la^ one. The king shot at a couple of antelopes 
that were ju^ in the joys of pairing.- But it was really a young 
Rishi, who had thus transformed himself and his wife, and was 
then love-making with her. With a human voice spoke he that 
had been brought to the ground : " Even they that are seized by 
hot desire and rage, they that are robbed of under^anding, 
even men that take their delight in evil shun gruesome deeds. 
Born thou wa^ in the glorious race of men whose soul lived 
ever in virtue ; how then could^ thou, overcome by desire 
and greed, so go aftray in thy mind ? " Pandu insisted he had 
every right to slay the bea^s of the fore^.^ But the male antelope 
said : " It is not for my own sake that I upbraid thee for 

^ The same tale is, for inftance, in Wilson's Vishnupur., iii, p. 306 ff. 
(4th Book, 4th chapt.) ; Bhagavatapur., iv, 9.20-39 (in both places 
the explanation is also given of how the king became " Pied F'^^t "). 

2 With this tale cp. Markandeyapur., Ixxiv, 23 ff. 

3 Not only are all Kshattriyas in the Epic, and the holy kings of 
earlie^ times mighty hunters before the Lord, but even in the midft 
of a rhapsody on the ahimsa and the awfulness of killing living beings 
and of eating flesh hunting is held up to praise and declared to be wholly 
sinless ; for the Kshattriya while so engaged sets his own life at ftake, 
it is slaying foes. And moreover Aga^a, the great saint, and in our 
days the hero above all others, of the Tamil people, not only did hunt 
himself, but also besprinkled (that is, consecrated) the beafts of the 
foreil as sacrifices for all the gods, and thereby made them outlaws 
(i, 1 18.12 ff. ; xiii, 115.56 ff. ; 1 16.15 ^- ' Vasishtha, xiv, 15; 
Manu,- V, 22). The hunt is looked on as a right and virtue 
of the nobles (Mahaviracaritam ed. T. R. Ratnam Ayar, S. Ranga- 
chariar, and K. P. Parab, Bombay, 1892, p. 220 : mrigaya ca rajnam 
dharma eva) ; indeed it is called their eternal law (sanatana dharma, 
Mahanirvanat., xi, 142). Cp. my Dagakumaracar., p. 340 f., and 
Ram., iv, 18.36 ff. 

The Pleasures of Sex 

killing the antelopes. But thou shouldb^ out of friendly thought- 
fulness have taken heed that I was jusl pairing. For what man 
of sense could bring himself at such a time dear to all beings, 
longed after by all beings, to slay in the fore^ an antelope when 
in the aft of pairing ? For thee, born of the race of the 
Pauravas, unwearied in the doing of noble deeds, this deed is 
not seemly, which is cruel, unheard of, one that all men will 
condemn, which leads not to heaven, but to shame, and is called 
accursed. Thou, who underslandesi: well the particularities 
and excellences of the enjoyment of women, and knowe^ 
the books of the doftrine, and the nature of religious duty and 
human well-being, shouldsl: not have done a thing which thus 
brings about the loss of heaven. I am a Muni purified through 
asceticism, my name is Kindama. It was because I felt ashamed 
and shy before men that I did pair with the she-antelope. 
Turned into an antelope, I roam about with antelopes in the 
depths of the forest. But as thou didst not know that, for thee 
it will not be as the murder of a Brahman that thou ha^ thus 
slain me, who was wearing an antelope's shape, and was mazed 
with love. Yet, O blinded one, thou shalt have this requital : 
when thou, bewildered with love, art in the embraces of thy 
wedded wife, thou wilt in this very ^ate go into the world of 
the dead. The loved one whom thou art embracing at the time 
of thy death will, however, out of loving devotion, follow thee, 
O beS\ of the prudent, when thou ha^ reached the city of the 
dead, into which all beings come but unwillingly." When these 
words had died away life left the antelope, and Pandu at once 
was gripped with sorrow (i, 1 1 8). From that time on he lived in 
^rid continence as a forest penitent, together with his two wives, 
and he had his five sons through the gods. " One day the king 
with his wives was wandering through the forefl in spring-time, 
when the forest blooms and living beings are all mazed. When 
Pandu beheld the forest with its bloom- and fruit-laden trees, its 
varied waters and lotus-clumps, love came into his heart. As 
now he roamed there with joy-lifted mind like an immortal, 
Madrl wearing magnificent garb, alone was with him. As 
now he gazed on the youthful one, clad in thin garments, his 
love blaz'ed up, like a fire lit in the thick forest. And as he 
stealthily beheld the lotus-eyed one thus alone, he was over- 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

come with longing and could not keep back his passion. And 
then the king fell with force on her that was alone, although 
the queen kept him off, and sought with the ^rength of her body 
to wre^ herself away. But his senses filled with love, he gave 
no thought to the curse. In love's longing, forcibly he drew 
nigh to Madrl, and himself drew nigh to death, fallen under the 
spell of love's desire, as he bade fear begone, goaded on by fate. 
As Pandu, the Kuru scion of highly virtuous mind, united 
himself with his wife in the joys of love, he united himself with 
death. Then Madrl clasped the lifeless king, and again and again 
uttered loud cries of woe. KuntI with her sons, and Madri's 
two children came to where the king was lying in this ^ate. 
Then spoke Madrl in torture these words to KuntI : ' Come 
thou hither quite alone ; the children mu^ ^ay there.' When 
KuntI heard these words of hers, she left the children there 
and ran quickly to her, screaming out : ' I am death's own ! ' 
She now upbraided Madrl with having led the king on to being 
birred with love (praharsha), and called her blessed withal in 
that she had gazed on the prince's face ftirred with love. 
Madrl told her how the king would not be held back, and 
KuntI claimed as elde^ wife, to die with him. Madrl, she said, 
muft: rise, and take the children into her care. But Madrl 
spoke : ' I shall follow after my brave husband, for I have 
not yet taken my fill of love ; let the elder one grant me this. 
And as he was drawing nigh to me, he loft love. How should 
I cut this love off from him in Yama's abode there ? And I 
cannot fully make atonement by having borne myself impartially 
towards thy sons ; and so a sin would be laid upon me. With the 
king's body shall this dead body of mine, well wrapped, be 
burned. Do this for love of me, O noble one ! And take good 
care for the children, and love me.^ I do not see anything more 
to charge thee with.' After these words the law-keeping wife, 
the splendid daughter of the king of the Madras, climbed 
swiftly up to him as he lay on the funeral pyre," ^ See, too, 
Ram., i, 36.5 ff. 

1 Or : Be careful and kind w^ith my children. 

2 As in the following chapters we are told how the penitents bring 
the two bodies, Kunti, and the children to Ha^inapura and hand them 


The Pleasures of Sex 

If women, then, have such a healthy and natural joy in the 
surata, the men indeed are in no wise behind. The frequently ! 
seen ideal of the Indian,and above all of the v/arrior,of the blissful 
life is intercourse with thousands of lovely women in the bloom 
of youth, smiling with long lotus-eyes at the man, windmg 
their rounded arms about his neck, and pressing their 
swelling firm breads again^ him — women who press great 
over, and how the two corpses are then burned with all proper cere- 
monies, this short enigmatic sentence ftrikes oddly. We only expeft 
to find that Madri has killed herself, at leaft if what follows is looked 
on as belonging to the original, or at lea^ to the same account. K. for 
this part has a true flood of words evidently from a very late period 
(i, 1 34 ff.). Kunti here at the sight of the dead man falls to the ground 
like a felled tree, and gives herself up then to a long conventionally- 
phrased wailing. The penitents who come running up also raise 
cries of woe, and the five brothers come up in single file, and m the 
order of their ages say their little verses of lamentation. Then there 
follows a regular suttee scene : firft the penitents do all to dissuade 
the two wives from offering themselves up ; they were to live in 
charity and good works, and so be serviceable to their dead husband. 
Kunti humbly consents to this, but Madri repeats her earlier declara- 
tions, solemnly makes her farewell, addresses a wise exhortation to the 
children, and is consecrated with pious prayers by Kunti. The Puro- 
hita Ka9yapa has bits of gold, sacrificial butter, sesame, sour milk, 
rice grains, water-jugs, and an axe brought by the penitents, and has 
the wood-pile set alight by Yudhishthira with fire from a horse- 
sacrifice (!), whereupon she dedicated to death leaps into the flames 
(i,i35). In what follows there is then a description given, some- 
what as in the Bomb, text, of the body-burning, which in both places 
muft now be thought of as carried out only on what is left of the bones, 
thou gh this does not agree very well with the aftual account. The whole 
is probably patched together from different versions. It looks as though 
the idea of the burning which had taken place before this in the peni- 
tential foreft were borrowed from the example of the Brahman's 
wife. In her case all happens naturally ; for Madri was the wood-pile 
inserted for better or worse. The faft of the penitents only reaching 
Haftinapura on the 17th day after Pandu's death does not of course 
give any support to the text as handed down. Needless to say, how- 
ever, there may have been a version of the tale in which the final 
burial was carried out at once in the foreft, and then Madri's fiery death 
quite fits in. But there was an unwillingness, I think, to lose the 
solemn and splendid public ceremony. Cp. i, 150.10 ff. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

swelling hips, and thighs like banana-ftems again^ his body, 
who give lips red as the bimba-fruit to be sucked by his, and who 
as they glow in the surata not only receive, but also give. And 
thus the princes of Old India in particular were much given to 
the joys of love, and Indian literature tells us of many who, 
owing to an over-eager indulgence in the surata, fell, victims 
to consumption and an early death. So it was with Vicitravlrya, 
who secretly turned all the women's heads, and through his 
two big brown wives, with their black curly hair, red high- 
arched finger-nails, and swelling hips and breads, became from 
a dharmatman (virtuous-souled) a kamatman (one whose soul 
is love, i, 102.66 fF. ; v,i47.25 ; cf i, 1 19.3-4 ; v, 11. 10 £). 
As he died without children, Vyasa had to call up offspring for 
him. The same lot of an early death, uncrowned by offspring, 
fell to King Vyushita^va, only too madly in love with his 
intoxicatingly lovely wife, Kakshlvatl. Then after his death 
he brought about that which in life was not possible, as will be 
told later (i, 121. 17 ff.). More will be said when we deal 
with the love life of the Epic hero. Then, too, the sexual 
embrace comes before us as a healing remedy : The soul has 
the greate^ influence on the body, " for through pain of 
the soul the body is heated in torment like water in a pitcher 
by a glowing ball of iron." ^ Skilful leeches therefore in 
dealing with bodily ills firft remove those of the soul, and this 
is done by their providing the man with sexual enjoyment 
(iii, 2.21 ff.). 

It is well known also that in the more formal poetry of India 
and in the doftrinal books various refinements play a great part 
in the ordinary love embrace. Of these the Epic refers to 
one only ; in the description of the horses wandering about in 
a battle we find as follows : " Trampled by the hoofs of these 
^eeds, the earth shone in many colours like a woman that is 
marked with scratches this way and that by the nails (of the 
lover)" (ix, 9.13). To heighten the powers of love ^ flesh 

^ " As thought, so the mind ; as the mind (manas), so the body 
becomes " (sick and healthy, too). Panca9atiprabandha ed. Ballini, 

p. 34- 

^ Means of heightening the sexual powers of the man, so much 
even that in one night he can satisfy a thousand women, are known in 


The Pleasures of Sex 

has from times of old been recommended, and the Indians 
of the Epic, above all the Kshattriyas, are great, "^^"fhus.a^tic, 
meat-eaters. So even that pattern of virtue Yudhishthira, 
acknowledges in xiii, 115 that he prizes flesh above everythmg, 
and would'now learn the good and the evil of flesh-eatmg from 
the dying Bhishma. And Bhishma grants, too, that there is 
nothing better than flesh, and that among other things it has 
many advantages for those who are given up with all their 

the Old Indian literature in great abundance. See Rich. Schmidt 
U.-^.£r...^ 842-857; Garudapur.,i8..2; 184.13; i9---a3 
20225-28; Brihatsamh., 76 ; Agnipur., 302.1 5-16 ; Chavanne, 
ant cents conteS, ii, 205 ; lii, 235 ; etc^ It is to be noted that onions 
oLL and beans play a part in this. Because of their magical nature 
iSns^elcSnd {Ac L foods ^n^^ f^bidden in thelaw hte.ti^ 
rAca^ i ^,17.26; Manu, V, 19; Yajnav., 1, 176 ; Vishnu, li, 3;» 
nd th"; we'u-kLw; prohibition of beans would seem seemg this 
efFeft of the anti-Pythagorean field-fruit, easy to underhand. A 1 
know from one who has lived long in India, one hears there in our days 
as the explanation of the onion tabu its too great likeness to flesh 
But it is the well-known erotic, magical, and religious importance 
of the onion plants that seems to be the main reason he_re. 0^1°^^ and 
garlic are found as aphrodisiacs e.g. in Samayamatrika 11, 26. Garlic 
fs among the Ainu the favourite food of the ^od._{Anthropos,j 766) , 
onions and leeks were talismans among the Classical peop es Schur 
Urgesck. d. KulL, 599); -"d to-day among the South Slavs the garlic 
is "a proteftion againft witchcraft and hauntmg " (Krauss, Sttteu^ 
Branch %Q% • cp. 545 ; Slav. Folkforsckungen, pp. 37, 66, 9^,, I4«» 
fo) The fire of love, too, in Slav belief is made hotter by the 
of g lie (Krauss, Sitte, etc., 240 f ). Cp. further R. Andrea, Etknol 
pIra//e/\iS7S), i, 41-43 ; Th. Zachanae A^/.... Schn/un 38 , 
K E Franzos, Forn Don zur Donau (1878), i, 211 ; n, 8 »o , 
ds"o MBh. K, xii, 141.91 f-; -iii' 91-38 f That among the old 
Hind^, too, the onion was prized as a food, anyhow by -any, seems 
to be shown by the tale of the onion-thief, which has wandered into 
the We^ and is known there in many places : he was caught, and ^^ as 
given the choice of paying 100 rupees, gettmg 100 blows with a ftick, 
L eating 100 onions ; he chose at firft, of course, the omons, but then 
with ftrLming eyes and a face drawn in torment the cudgeUmg, and 
under the pain of the firft ^roke quickly chose the money fine. See 
Hertel, W/^^ - ^^^ergi. LUeraturgescL, Bd. 5, P- 1 29 ff. and especially 
Zachariae, ibid., Bd. 6, p. 356 ff- 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

soul to the " villagers' cu^om " (pleasures of love) ; and there 
is no doubt but that flesh arises out of the seed (9I. 9 fF.).i 
(^iva and his wife are the ideal figures, carried beyond all bounds, 
even to grotesqueness, of the Indian powder of imagination, in 
this respedl:, that they can immeasurably lengthen the 
embraces of love. When under the mountains this god had 
wedded the daughter of the prince, he set himself with his wife 
to sporting in bed. But a long thousand years of the gods went 
by,2 and the heaven-dwellers grew anxious le^ the fruit of so 
endless a begetting should be far too mighty for the world to 
tolerate. They went therefore to the tireless pair, and 
begged (^iva that for the weal of all beings he would put a 
check on his manly powers. He graciously consented, but asked 
who should catch up the seed already aroused. The earth was 
chosen for this, but it filled up altogether with it, and so the 
god of fire was called in to help ; he penetrated this flood, 
and so there arose the mountain Qvetaparvata, and the heavenly 
cane-fore^, where from the god's procreative fluid the war- 
god Kartikeya or Kumara came into being (Ram., i, 36.5 ff.).^ 
Neither myths like these, however, nor the sensuality so 
often blazing up, in any way alter the ethical view of the surata 
found in the Epic, especially in its didadic parts. Here also it 
comes before us as something unclean. The evil spirits Pramatha 
are asked by the gods, the dead, and the Rishis what it is that 

^ Ascetic literature lays ^ress in India on the view that one 
muft ab^ain from eating flesh for the very reason that it hinders the 
control of the senses. So, for instance, Amitagati, Subhashitasamdoha, 
xxi, 13 (also honey has an erotic effed, xxii, 18). The main reason 
for the turning away from flesh is suggefted by me in my Altind. 
Rechtsschr., p. 45 (middle) ; 370, note. 

2 A year for men is equal to a day for the gods (e.g. Manu, i, 67). 

^ Somadeva gives a ftill more draftic turn to the legend (Kathas., 
20.60 ff.). According to MBh., xiii, 84.60 fF., where no mention is 
made of the love joys of the heavenly pair lading so long, the gods 
come to them and get (^iva to promise to beget no offspring, for 
they are anxious left it should be too powerful and terrible. Uma's 
mother-urge is thus scornfully cheated of its rights, and 
"since she is a woman, to the gods she utters the hot, raw words of 
the curse : Now ye, too, shall all be childless ! " 


The Pleasures of Sex 

makes anyone ucchishta (usually he that has not yet undertaken 
the needful washings after eating), a9uci (unclean), and kshudra 
(low, common), and thereby fall a vidlim to their de^roying 
power. And they answer among other things : " Through 
copulation men become ever ucchishta, and if they have practised 
the 'upside-down'" (xii, 131.4).^ And in the golden age 
there was no sexual union whatever. So we find in xii, 
207.37 ff. : " So long as men chose to retain the body, so long 
they lived ; there was no fear of death. Nor did they know 
either the custom of copulation ; their offspring came into being 
through the mere wish. In the days of the Tretayuga (silver 
age) thereafter, the children were begotten by touch ; for they, 
too, had not the cu^om of copulation. In the Dvapara age 
arose among creatures the cufbom of copulation." In our own 
evil or Kali age it is now needful ; but it is regulated. It 
muft not be practised in the open air (aka(;e, xii, 228.45 ; cp. 
Meyer, Altind. Rechtsschr., 237), and mu^ be pradised secretly 
(xiii, 162.47 ; xii, 193.17 2) ; in the latter passage is added 
that it mu^ also be in lawful wise, which may mean the 
re^ridion to one's own wife, but according to Nil. refers to 
the ritu. Then there is only the vulva for it ; done in 

1 Adharottara is here probably an expression for " perverse " love 
(viparita surata), for the usual meaning (here also accepted by the 
schol.) does not fit very well. — Here belongs also iii, 136.13 : 
To the penitent Yavakri(ta) there comes a magical being (kritya) 
in the shape of a woman beloved by him, infatuates him, and takes 
away his water-jug. Since he is now ucchishta and robbed of his water- 
jug, an enemy Rakshasa gets him in his power. Then even the public 
harlot washes her hands and feet after the aft of love, and rinses her mouth 
out (Kuttanimata, 162 f.). A bath or wash afterwards is enjoined, 
for in^ance, in Manu, v, 144 ; Vishnu, xxii, 67 ; Para9ara, xii, i ; 
Mahanirvanatantra, vii, 75. Cp. Kamasutra, p. 179 of the edit.; 
and Wasserschleben, Die Bussordnungen d. abendland. Kircke, 1851, 
p. 216 : Maritus, qui cum uxore sua dormierit, lavet se, antequam 
intret in ecclesiam. Among the Hovas of Madagascar for one week 
before the circumcision the parents and sponsors of the child to be 
circumcised mu^ abflain from coition, otherwise I'operaiion ne 
reussirait pas bien {Jnthropos, iv, 378). And dozens of such cases. 
Cp. too Thur^on, Omens, etc., p. 29. 

2 Cp. e.g. Vasishtha, vi, 9. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

the mouth it is a crime (vii, 73.43). The asyamaithuna is also 
named as one of the dreadful things making their appearance 
towards the end of the world : Bahuprajah, hrasvadehah, 
9llacaravivarjitah, mukhebhagah ^riyo, rajan, bhavishyanti 
yugakshaye (iii, 188.41 ; cp. vii, 73.38 ff.).i So, too, 
homosexuality is a dreadful sin : " The blind ones, evil-livers, 
very foolish ones, however, who find their delight in intercourse 
with a base womb (especially of an animal, but also of a woman 
of low rank) (viyonau), and with men, are born again as men 
incapable of begetting " (xiii, I45.52).2 Here, too, seems to 
belong the passage from the description of the evil ^ate of 
things at the time when a world age is coming to its end : 
" Men and women will walk their ways after their own wishes, 
and not be able to suffer one another, when the end of a yuga has 
come about. Then, when the end of the world is at hand, the 

1 We are told by Nil. : The women in Bengal (Vangeshu) are 
known for beginning with their mouth the business of the vulva to ex- 
cite the man's desires, owing to their excessive craving for the joys 
of love. Such a thing is, of course, ftrongly condemned by the law 
books. Whoso has unnatural intercourse with his wife, his forefathers 
have to live the month through in his seed (Vasishtha, xii, 22 f.) ; 
according to Mahanirvanat., xi, 44 he is even to be punished with 
death. For unnatural desires, of whatever kind, the law writings 
and the Puranas lay down various purifications and penances (and 
expulsion from the cafte). Anyone practising such lewdness or other 
forbidden sexual intercourse is, according to Baudhayana, iii, 7.2, the 
same as a Brahman-murderer. 

2 But perhaps more likely so : " the blind ones, evil-livers, among 
men (persons) very foolish ones, who delight themselves with inter- 
course with a base womb," which then of course might be meant 
forsodomy; according to xii, 228.45 rather for intercourse with women 
of low standing. Cp. xii, 227.14, and as to viyoni also xii, 296.11 ; 
xiii, 104.133; 106.72; K, xiii, 53.1 f For: maithunam puru- 
sheshu compare : maithunarn pumsi in Manu, xi, 68. According 
to this passage and Vishnu, xxxviii, 5 by homosexual perversion 
the man loses his cafte ; while Manu,xi, 175, Vishnu, liii, 4, prescribe 
bathing in the clothes as the atonement. Lesbian love between girls 
is punished with a heavy money fine and ten ^rokes of the whip 

j (^ipha) ; the married woman who thus ftains a maid shall be at once 
' shaved bald, have two fingers cut off, and be led on an ass through the 
place. Manu, viii, 369 f. 


The Pleasures of Sex 

woman will not find content with her husband, nor the man with 
his wife " (iii, 190.45, 50).^ And you shall not be a thrall to 
the pleasures of love, when you celebrate a sacrifice to the fore- 
fathers (9raddha). The ^raddhamaithunika is set before us, in 
vii, 17.32, as a great sinner. All those taking part are then 
bound to keep chaSte. " It is held that on this day copulation 
is to be avoided. It is as one pure that you shall always partake 
of the death-meal (9raddha). He that gives or shares in a death- 
meal, and goes to a woman, his fathers mu^t lie that month in 
the seed" (xiii, 125.42, 24).^ Further, we find (xiii, 104.29) : 
" In the fir^ night of the new moon, in the night of the full 
moon, in the fourteenth night and in the eighth night ot each 
half of the month you shall always praftise complete charity." ^ 

1 Also MBh., xii, 228.73 would belong here, if ka^cic chishyasakho 
guruh has been rightly translated by Deussen : " Now and then the 
teacher was the disciple's lover " (the immorahty which spread 
among the Daityas is being spoken of). But perhaps it only means 
that the disciple's reverential relation towards the teacher vanished, 
and too httle re^raint, or over-familiarity, came in its ftead. As an evil 
habit of the degenerates it may here be further mentioned that the 
men dressed in women's clothes and the women in men's, and they 
so associated with one another (9I. 68), which reminds us of other 
phenomena known. Cp. xiii, 104.85. — The passage in the text (iii, 
190.45, 50) could, it is true, also be speaking only of adultery. 

2 The same threat is in Mark.-Pur., xxxi, 3i-34> while according 
to Vasishtha, xi, 37 they have to hve on the seed. Cp. Manu, iii, 
250; Gautama, XV, 22. The sinner himself goes to hell. Garuda- 
puranasarod., iv, 41. 

3 Not on the 8th, 14th, 15th day of the half month (the Parvan 
days) nor on the four days when the moon changes muft love be 
indulged in. Baudh., i, 11, 21.18 (cp. 22); Vasishtha, xii, 21 ; 
Manu, iii, 45 ; iv, 128 ; Yajfiav., i, 79 ; Vishnu, Ixix, i ; Mark.- 
Pur., xxxiv, 43-44. Otherwise the sinner goes to hell. Garuda- 
puranasarod., iv, 41 . The root of these (and of who knows how many 
similar and seemingly purely ethical) precepts is shown quite correftly 
in Baudhayana, i, 11, 21.19 : " On the Parvan days evil spirits are 
in wait." Especially dangerous then are naturally an empty 
house, a graveyard, a tree, water, etc. (see e.g. Vishnu, Ixix, 7, 8 ; 
MBh., xiii, 1 31.4 f; 1,170-8-11; 15^-5 695 Manu, xi, 174 f. 
(= Agnipur., 169.36 f.) ). 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Cp. xiii, 104.89 ; 228.45 5 ^y ^iiij 211.43 > 233.50. And 
, for the permitted times, too, the rule holds : " Only in the 
! evening (in the night) ! " For the morning belongs to the 
religious duties, midday to the worldly (artha). Cp. for in^ance 
xiii, 22.27 ' ^^^5 73-3^ ff- > 'ij 5-20, and comment. Among 
the mo^ dreadful sins coition during the day is given in vii, 
73.38 ff. ; so also in xiii, 93.121 ; 94.24 ; and in the self- 
cursing formula of Arjuna, already given (vii, 73.41, 43).^ 

^ The same prohibition is in the law books. According to Mark.- 
Pur., xiv, 74, 76 he that copulates by day is badly tortured in hell. 
So in other Puranas. Furthermore in the morning and at twilight 
continence muii be observed. Mark.-Pur., xxxiv, 82.73 5 Vish- 
nusmriti, Ixix, 10. And in a vehicle muft Venus not be sacrificed 
to (e.g. Manujxi, 175 ; Vishnu, liii, 4 ; Agnipur., 169.37 (= Manu, 
175, cp. Meyer, Altind. Recktsschr., 237)). Thus then the condud: 
of the loving couples in Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Maupassant's 
Bel-Ami and doubtless elsewhere, who quench their desires in the hired 
coach, is doubly wicked. Speaking, too, during the "work of darkness" 
is banned (Agnipur., i66.i7a-i8a), naturally, as with the other 
dispositions there given, so as not to arouse evil influences. A shorter 
compilation of rules for sexual intercourse with the wife is to be found 
in Manu, iii, 45 (cp. Biihler's parallels), and a good one, somewhat 
more in detail, in Vishnu, Ixix ; particularly excellent is Carakasarnhita, 
iv, 8, and good, too, is Garudapur., Pretakalpa, xxxii, 7-19 ; Brihat- 
sarnh., 78.11 ff. ; etc. Much that is beautiful is given us, for inftance, 
in Vishnupurana, iii, ii.iio ff., a passage which may here be given 
as an example of such similar precepts often to be found in the 
law books and other writings : " At the time of the ritu do thou, 
O lord of the earth, approach thy wife, happy, under a constellation 
bearing a masculine name, at a propitious time, during the beft even- 
■ numbered nights. But go not to the unbathed woman, to the sick one, 
; to the menstruating one, not to her without desire, not to the angry 
one, not to one in ill-repute, not to one with child, not to one uncofn- 
plaisant, not to her that longs for another man or is without love (or : 
i that is unwilling), not to another man's wife, not to one that is faint 
; with hunger, not to one that has overeaten. Nor do thou thyself be 
weighed down with such qualities as these. Bathed, wearing a 
wreath and scented, bursting with Strength (sphita), not v/earied or 
hungry, filled with love and tender inchnation, let the man go to 
sexual union. The fourteenth and the eighth day of the half-month, 
the day of the new moon, as also the day of the full moon and also the 


The Pleasures of Sex 

But the Epic particularly often Presses the prohibition 
againil a man embracing any woman other than his own wife. 
This has already been touched on. A few more passages are 
given here. He who in other things is pious, and is content 
with his own wife, and does not even in thought covet 
another woman, wins a glorious lot in the other world, and the 
same merit even as one that oflrers a thousand horse-sacrifices 
(xiii, 107.10, 50 ff.).^ Subhadra bewailing her son, says in 

day when the sun comes into a new house of the zodiac — these are 
the Parvan days, O ruler of princes. The man who on these Parvan 
days partakes of oil, flesh, and woman goes after death to hell, where 
dung and urine muft be his food. . . . Neither outside the vul va, ^^ 
nor in the vulva of another (not human) being7 nor usmg medicines 
(exciting or ftrengthening the manly powers), nor in the house of 
a Brahman, a god, or a Guru, let a man give himself up to love's 
pleasures, nor near holy trees (or : village shrines, caitya), nor by 
cross-roads, nor in places where many roads meet, nor in grave- 
yards, nor in groves, nor in the water, O lord of the earth. Neither 
on the Parvan days named, nor in either twilight, nor troubled by 
urine or ftool, muft the wise man go to the joyful union. Copulation 
on the Parvan days brings misfortune on men, that by day brings 
evil (or : sin), that done on the ground has sickness after it, and 
calamitous is that done in water. Let none ever approach the wedded 
wife of another, not_eyg n in thought, ho w m uch less fn words. ' — 
Not even longing(afthibandha) have those who lie with such a 
woman ; after death such a man goes to hell, and already here his life 
is shortened. Intercourse with the wedded wife of another is deftruc- 
tion for men, even in both worlds. Mindful of this, let the wise man 1 
go to his own wife, when she is in her ritu and free from the blemishes / 
already told ; and if she has a longing for love, then even outside the' 
ritu." (Translated after the Bomb. edit, (^aka 181 1.) The places 
and times here set forth, but not exhau^ively, have of course become 
tabu because of their magical danger. A highly inftruftive parallel 
to them is offered, for example, by the monftrously intricate rules of 
behaviour for the Snataka, which take up so much room in the Grihya- 
sutras, the law books, and the Puranas, and forma real ftore-house for 
the hiftory of super^ition and of mankind. 

^ But he has also the duty laid on him to speak no untruth, even 
for his father and mother, to sacrifice to the fire god con^antly for 
twelve months, and to eat havis, when the eleventh day has come ; 
and as the two laft-mentioned things are extraordinarily meritorious, 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

vii, 78.24 : " Go thou, my little son, to the same place whither 
come through their charity the Munis obeying ftrift vows, 
and whither come the men with but one wife " (cp. 9I. 31.32). 
" The men who find delight only in their own wife, and ever 
aft towards other women as they do towards their mother, 
their sifter, their daughter, they whose eyes through good ways 
of life are shut to ftrange women, who do no hurt to Grange 
women even in thought, even when these women approach 
them secretly with love — such men come into heaven " (xiii, 
144.10-15 ; 33). In the long and solemn imprecatory formula 
wherein Bharata wishes all the mo^ dreadful horrors and evils 
for him who has been glad to see Rama banished, he also says : 
" May the evil-minded one, with whose consent the noble one 
went forth, set in the second place his wife that has bathed after 
her period and is keeping her ritu ! Given up to the pleasures 
of a love again^ law and virtue, blinded, may he leave his own 
wife on one side, and consort with other women, he with whose 
consent the noble one went forth ! " (Ram., ii, 75.52, 55). 
Mahabharata, xii, 90.32 says emphatically : " With unknown 
women, with such beings as belong to the third sex, with women 
of loose morals, with the wives of others, and with maidens 
let not a man have union." Besides the unknown woman, 
the woman with child is named as forbidden in xiii, 104.47.^ 
Furthermore, we read (xiii, 104.20 ff.) : In all ca^es a man 
muft never approach the wife of another. For there is nought 
in the World which so shortens life as that the man on earth 
should visit the wife of another (= Manu, iv, 134}. As many 
pores as are on women's bodies, so many years will he sit in 

the charity and truthfulness that is demanded besides them, play, 
anyhow in the present text, a secondary part. 

1 The prohibition of intercourse with the pregnant woman is well 
known to be widespread throughout the world, and of course above 
all because the pregnant woman is looked on as unclean and bringing 
disafter. See Ploss-Bartels *, i, 601 if. ; Elsie Clews Parsons, 
The Old-Fashioned Woman (19 13), p. 80 fF. If her bare shadow falls 
on a snake, it becomes blind. Crooke, Pop. ReL, ii, 143. And yet 
Vasishtha, xii, 24, at lea^, brings forward an old and holy authority 
for women being allowed to share in the sport of love, even when far 
advanced in pregnancy, in virtue of a favour granted them by Indra. 


The Pleasures of Sex 

hell. " Men who give themselves up to promiscuous inter- 
course (praklrnamaithuna) have, as men of vice and spurners of 
order, a short life, go to hell, and invite their being 
reborn impotent" (xiii, 104.12 ; i45-53)-^ He that 
touches another's v^^ife is born as a wolf, as a dog, as a jackal, 
then born as a vulture, a snake, a heron, as also a crane (baka). 
The blinded villain who defiles his brother's wife becomes for a 
year a kokila cock. He that to slake his lu^ lays hands on the 
wife of his friend (cf. xiii, 101.16), of his teacher (guru), or of 
the king, is born after death as a swine. He will be five years a 
swine, ten years a porcupine, five years a cat, ten years a cock, 
three months an ant, one month an insedl (kita), and then, 
having had these embodiments (sarnsara, cp. iii, 183.70), will be 
born in a worm's exigence (krimiyoni). In this worm's 
existence he will live fourteen months, and then, having atoned 
for his evil (adharma), be born again as a human being 
(xiii, 1 1 1.75 ff.). For five offences, indeed, there is no atone- 
ment (nishkriti), through them a man becomes an outca^, 
unworthy of intercourse (asambhashya) with forefathers, gods,^ 
and pious men, goes to hell, is roamed there like a fish, and has 
to live there on matter and blood. These are : the murder of 
a Brahman, cow-slaying, intercourse with another's wife, '^ 
unbelief, and living on a woman (xiii, 130.37-40). In the 
same way Ram., iii, 38.30 teaches : "There is no greater sin 
than to touch another's wife." On the other hand xii, 35.25 
prescribes, indeed, an atonement for him that seduces the wife 
of another ; but it is noteworthy that it is the same vow of 
mortification that is also laid on the Brahman-murderer. The 
former, however, only need keep it for a year. " Then he is 
free of his sin." This punishment falls on him "as a robber of 
another's property " (paradarapaharl tu parasyapaharan vasu). 
The matter is in xiii, 1 29. 1—4, looked at from the same, though 
sharper defined, standpoint : He that lies with another man's 
wife has to bear the same guilt as he that takes property 
away from a Brahman, which is, indeed, an offence crying to 
heaven. He is equal to a Brahman-murderer (v, 35.46 ff.). But if 

^ They also fall out of the cafte (e.g. Agnipur., p. 644). 
2 The explanation of this expression given in xiii, 130,3 is that gods 
and forefathers scorn his sacrificial gift. 



Sexual Life in Ancient India 

the Brahman himself takes some woman who is not his wedded 
wife to his bed, then to ?tone for his guilt he muft lie with his 
(bare) back on the grass (xii, 165.28), and so, and only in three 
years does he wipe out the sin of a night. The member of the 
prie^ly ca^e becomes apaiikteya, loses his social position, if he 
is a pander or brothel-keeper (kunda^in), has his wife's lover 
living in the house (that is probably, also makes profit from him), 
and if he visits the wife of another. On the other hand he is 
deemed to be a brahmacarin or continent man, if he at the time 
of the ritu always embraces his lawful wife (xiii, 9.7 ff., 28, 29 ; 
89.7-9).^ But also the noble view that sexual self-control is 
the holy and pure thing finds expression. In xii, 269.27 
Kapila sets forth the rule : " Let the man delight no woman 
that is the wife of a hero,^ nor let him call a woman when she 
is not in the ritu ; let him keep in his person the pious vow of 
wedded faith (bharyavrata).-"^ Thus will the gate of his sexual 
parts be warded." * There is then the magnificent verse, xii, 
210.37, wherein the body is called "the holy city with the 
nine gates" (navadvararn purarn punyarn).^ Among the four 

1 That the prie^Iy cafte in Old India was not so very di^inguished 
for its cha^e living is shown indeed by this passage, but ftill more so 
by many others in the Hterature. But it is well to use some care in 
accepting tales of prices not only among ourselves, but also in the Hindu 
land. According to an old proverb the he-goat and a Veda-learned 
Brahman are the lewdeft of beings. Apaft., ii, 6, 14.13. In the Epic, 
however, what is told of them does not give a particularly unfavourable 
pifture of their sexual morality. That they anyhow preached a loftier 
sexual ethic is also shown by numerous passages in the Epic. 

2 It would be quite easy instead of virapatnim to read virapatnim, 
" let him delight no woman that is not his wife, O hero." But a hero's 
wife is very dangerous (xii, 82.51). 

3 So Manu, ix, loi, enjoins : " Unto death shall they keep wedded 
faith one to another. This in a word is what is to be recognized as 
the higheft duty of wife and husband." 

* The often-appearing thought of the gates of the human body 
is then dealt with in the following gloka, and appears, too, elsewhere 
in the Epic. 

^ What is probably meant is the nine openings (srotas, kha, chidra): 
mouth, no^rils, ears, eyes, anus, penis. The whoUy arbitrary interpreta- 
tion of Nilakantha is, indeed, different, and besides it there is a like one 


The Pleasures of Sex 

gates that mu^ be watched over is found the male member, 
both in xii, 269.23 ff., and in xii, 299.28 ; 335.4.^ If the wife 
is unfaithful to the husband or the husband to the wife, then 
this is an evil ^ate of things which forebodes universal and 
dreadful disaster (xvi, 2.1 1). Of course, he, too, is a wicked 
man who helps others to adultery : " He that seduces or touches 
another's wife, or gets her for another, goes to hell " 
(xiii, 23.6i).2 

in vi, 29, 13. But later on I see that he gives in xiv, 42, 56 the same 
interpretation as myself. In the passage before us we could as againft 
the scholia^ choose rather to give the five sense organs and the five 
adlive organs according to q:l. 30, but to reckon the tongue and speech 
as one only, thus : ear, eye, skin, tongue, nose, anus, generative 
member, hand, foot. This, too, seems to be pointed to by 9I. 32, 
which then would be translated : " In perceiving ta^e it is called 
tongue, in uttering it is called speech." Cp. xii, 210.32. Not 
so beautiful, but on the other hand more common, not in India alone, 
is the well-known view that the body and its openings are clean above, 
unclean below the navel. Baudhayana, i, 5, 10.19 (= i, 5-75 » 
according to Taitt.-Sarnh., vi, r, 3.4); Vishnu, xxiii, 31 ; Manu, 
V, 132 ; Cp. Meyer, Altind. Recktssckr., p. 9. Therefore it is that at 
death the soul of the good man escapes through one of the upper 
openings, the soul of the bad man through the lower ones. Forinftance, 
Agnipur., 371.3 ff; Garudapuranasarod., ix, 36 f.; Crooke, Anthropos, 
iv, 468 (in the laft-mentioned that of the bad man through the anus, 
that of the pious man through brahmarandhra). 

^ The three others are arms (and feet), the tongue, and the belly. 

2 The views held in the law literature and the Puranas on inter- 
course with the woman that is not one's wedded wife, but particularly 
with the wife of another, are no less severe. Here we can only give 
a few instances. The adulterer has a short life and goes to a hell of 
torment. Mark.-Pur., xxxiv, 62 ; xiv, 76 ; Agnipur., 203.1 5, 20. He 
shall be put to death, unless he is a Brahman. Baudh., ii, 2, 4. i ; Manu, 
viii, 539 (cp. 352 f.). In adultery the man's penis and te^icles are to 
be cut off, in evil-doing with a maiden his property shall be seized, 
and he banished from the land. Apaft., ii, 10, 26.20-21 ; 27.1. The 
king mu^ then shield such women and maidens from ftain and hand 
them over to their guardian, if they promise to undertake the prescribed 
penances. When they have done these they muft be treated as they 
were before their fall. Cp. Meyer, Altind. Recktssckr., index under 
" Ehebruch ". Besides these, however, there are also lighter punish- 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

ments : charity for so many years, a year of the Mahavrata mortifica- 
tion, the highest possible and also lower money fines, and so forth. 
The adulterer is a thief (caura). Yajnav., ii, 301, etc. (cp. Sarnyutta- 
nikaya, ii, p. 188). Intercourse with another's wife is reckoned 
among criminal deeds of violence (Narada, xvi, 2), and according to 
6, along with murder of any kind it belongs to the worft class of all. 
The punishments are : Not less than 1,000 pana fine, confiscation 
of all property, banishment, branding, cutting off the offending 
member, death (8). Cp. Brihaspati, xxii, i. So, as in robbery and 
violence, in adultery also the witnesses are not to be, as happens in 
other cases, most carefully examined firft, but anyone can here be 
a witness. Manu, viii, 72 ; Narada, i, 189 (p. loi in Jolly's edit.) ; 
Yajnav., ii, 72 ; Vishnu, viii, 6. The adulterer, indeed, is reckoned 
among the seven kinds of murderers (atatayin), as the man, too, who 
raises his hand to utter a curse again^ another, and he that makes use 
of a deftrudtive magic from the Atharvaveda again^ another man ; 
and as a murderer he can be slain without further ado. Vishnu, v, 
189 ff. Cp. MBh. K, xii, 14.79-83. So Mahanirvanatantra, xi, 
53 enjoins: If a man comes upon his wife in another man's arms, 
and kills both, then the king mu^ not punish him. A memorable case 
out of Rajput hi^ory is told by Tod, Raja^han, ii, 523 : Prince 
Gopinath of Bundi goes in the night to a Brahman's wife. The husband 
takes and in the end binds him, goes to the sinner's royal father, and 
announces he has taken a thief who has ^olen his honour. What did 
the man deserve ? " Death." The injured man hurries home, 
beats in the prince's head with a hammer, and throws him into 
the ^reet. The king, his father, silently submits. Among the 
Gurkhas, who are said to descend from the Rajputs, the husband kills 
the adulterer publicly. Wright, Hi^. of Nepal, 32. In the case of 
certain women there can be no que^ion whatever of adultery. The 
wives of aftors and singers have already been mentioned on this point. 
As to the abhisarika see later. The following can be freely visited : 
the public harlot (ve^ya), the svairini, if she is not a Brahman, and the 
slave-woman who is not held back (demanded) by her ma^er (das! 
nishkasin; "who may go out freely"). But intercourse with such 
women as these (bhujishya) is adultery too, if they are the concubines 
(parigraha) of another man. So Narada, xii, 78 f. But on the other 
hand, Brihaspati, xv, 7 says : He that lies with the slave-gifl of a 
man becomes himself his slave. And in other places too she is found 
not without proteftion. Yajnav., ii, 290 lays down : In the case of 
confiscated serving-women and slave-women (harlots ? avaruddhasu 
dasishu bhujishyasu tathaiva ca) the man muft pay a 50 pana fine. 
Cp. Kautilya (transl.), 311. 10 ff. ; Manu, viii, 363. The svairini 


The Pleasures of Sex 

In the Epic, intercourse with the teacher's wife is often 
marked out as peculiarly shameful. Such a sinner is reincar- 
nated as one without manly powers (xiii, 145.53 > see also 
xiii, 1 1 1.64 ff., and cp. Manu, xi, 49 ; xii, 58). The atoning 
punishment here is as follows : " He that ^ains (gurutalpin) 
the teacher's bed shall seat himself on a glowing iron plate 
((jilam taptam ayasirn),^ cut off his own member, and go away 
with uplifted eyes. Freed from his body, he is freed from his 

is according to Narada, xii, 49 fF. of four kinds : (i) the woman who 
leaves her husband, and for love lives with another man ; (2) she 
who after her husband's death rejeds her brothers-in-law and other 
kinsmen of her husband, and for love unites herself with a Granger ; 
(3) she who through want, or, being bought for money, gives herself 
to a man ; (4) she who after a lawful marriage is made the wife of 
another by force. The earlier one among these four is always worse 
than the one following. Elsewhere the analyses of the concepts are 
less detailed. Yajnav., i, 67 says that her lover muft be of the same 
ca^e if the name svairini is to hold. And the nearer determination 
of what adultery really is leaves nothing to wish for on the score of 
severity. Especially detailed are Manu, viii, 354-363; Narada, 
xii, 62-69 ' Yajnav., ii, 283 fF. ; Brihaspati, xxiii, 2 ff. He that is 
together anywhere with the wife of another, as for inftance at the 
junftion of ftreams, at bathing-places, in gardens, in forefts, speaks 
with her, sports with her, sends her all kinds of gifts, kisses her, winks 
or smiles at her, touches her on the clothes or ornaments or body, 
particularly at unseemly places, or lets himself be touched by her 
there, sits on a bed with her, takes her by the hand, the hair, or the 
hem of her garment, and so forth, such a one by this commits adultery, 
although not of equally serious kind in each case. So, too, belong 
here the sending of a procuress, of a letter, and like aftions. Indeed, 
if a man from vanity, blindness, or boaftfulness himself says : " I have 
enjoyed this woman," then he is guilty of adultery (sarngrahana) 
according to the holy tradition (Narada, xii, 69). Maithuna (copula- 
tion), indeed, is according to old Indian teaching eightfold : smarana \ \ / 
(thinking of it), kirtana (speaking of it), keli (dallying), prekshana j \ "^ 
(viewing), guhyabhashana (secret converse), samkalpa (firm will 
to copulate), adhyavasaya (resolve to do it), kriyanishpatti (the adtual 
accomplishment). Each part is in itself maithuna. 

^ This meaning for fila is not found, indeed, in the didionaries, but 
Nil. anyhow gives for iii, 146.24 the explanation : gilah samapashanah 
^ayanasanayogyah, upalas tadanye. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

unclean deed ; women are redeemed from such-like deeds by 
making earned endeavour (yatta, according to Nil., making 
ab^ention in food and pleasure) for a year. But he who carries 
out the ' great vow \^ and gives away even all his possessions, 
or for the sake of the teacher is killed in battle, sets himself 
free of his unclean deed " (xii, 35.20 ff.). " The evil-begotten, 
evil-minded man that violates his maker's marriage-bed is 
made clean by clasping a glowing ^atue with the shape of a 
woman, and so meeting death. Or let him take his penis and 
testicles ^ himself into his hand, and go ftraight off into the 
region of the Nirriti (to the south-eaft) till he falls down 
(dead), or else give up his life on behalf of a Brahman ; thereby 
he becomes clean.^ Or he receives honour here and after death, 

1 The " great vow " (mahavrata) is the giving up even of water 
for a month. Nil. 

2 All three of which he has himself cut off. 

^ The same bloody punishment by loss of manhood, etc., is found 
in Manu, xi, 105 f . ; Apaft., i, 9, 25.1 ; Gaut., xxiii, 10 ; Vas., xx, 
13 ; Baudh., ii, i, 1.15 ; Yajfiav., iii, 259. According to Manu, 
xi, 104; Gaut., xxiii, 8; Baudh., ii, i, 1.13, the offender is to 
burn himself on a glowing iron bed (gridiron) ; according to Manu, 
xi, I ; Apaft., i, 9, 25.2 ; Gaut., xxiii, 9 ; Vas., xx, 14, he is to clasp 
the glowing iron figure of a woman ; he is to be burned in a hollow 
iron ftatue, under which fire is ilirred up, according to Apaft., i, 
10, 28.1 5 ; Manu, xi, 106 f. Yajfiav., iii, 260, lets him be cleansed 
of his sin through mortifications ; Agnipur., 169.20 adds self-ca^ration 
to this (cp. 664). Manu, ix, 237 ; Vishnu, v, 7 ; Narada, Pari^ishta, 
44 prescribe that the gurutalpin shall be branded with the yoni 
(vulva) ; so too Agnipur., 227.50. See also Meyer, Kautilya, and 
Alt'tnd. Rechtsschr., index under " Brandmarkung ". It mu^ not 
be left unmentioned that this sin also, like so many others, according 
to Smriti can easily be made good so long as it is kept hidden, 
namely by lip-penance and purse-mortification, that is, by grinding out 
mantras (Manu, xi, 252), and at the same time making the pious gift 
of a milch-cow (Yajnav., iii, 305). _ But on the other hand Smriti 
speaks of many sexual offences that are the same as the Gaining 
of the teacher's marriage-bed, and a long li^ of women is given who 
are on the same level with the guru's wife. Here we give only one 
or two : a woman who is the man's ward, a virgin, the wife of a 
friend, or of the son, a Pariah woman, the sifter's friend, a kinswoman 


The Pleasures of Sex 

if he makes a horse-sacrifice or a gosava or agnishtoma sacrifice 
in the rightful way ^ (xii, 165.49 ^•)- According to xii, 165.34, 
this offence, along with the drinking of spirits (surapana) and 
Brahman-murder, is among the monffrous ones for which there 
is no atonement laid down (anirdegya), and which can only be 
made good again by death (cf Manu, xi, 55). Also for sexual 
intercourse with a woman of higher ca^e there is the sharpest 
punishment. In this case the sinning woman also, whose 
punishment in general belongs not here, but to the chapter 
dealing with her relations with her husband, comes under public 
ju^ice : " As to the woman that sins again^ her husband, 
especially if she has been held back, she shall be made to carry 
out the same expiatory vow as is the man after adultery.^ If 
she leaves a better bed to go to another, a worse man,^ then shall 
the king have her torn (ardayet) asunder by dogs on a wide 
public place. But let the wise one put the man on a glowing 
bed of iron, and let him heap up wood, and there shall the evil- 

(sagotra), a begging nun (pravrajita). Vishnu, xxxvi, 4 fF. ; Yajfiav., 
iii, 231 ff. So, too, intercourse with a woman-ascetic is in Narada, 
xii, 73 held to be the same as inceft (contrariwise Kautilya (transl.), 
364.12 ff. and Yajnav., ii, 293 in this case have only a 24 pana 
fine. Cp. Kautilya 364.35 ff. ; and Manu, viii, 363). That inceft, 
which is given a very wide meaning, can only be wiped out through 
death by fire, caftration, expulsion from the cafte, and the like is easily 
underftood. See Btihler's Manu, xi, 171, and the parallels there given, 
as also Apaft., i, 7, 21.8; Narada, xii, 73 ff. ; Vishnu, xxxiv ; 
Para^ara, x, 9-1 1 ; Agnipur., 173.47 ff. Cp. Meyer, Kautilya, 
263.31 ff. and addit. Violating the teacher's marriage-bed (gurutalpa) 
and inceft are often in other places not kept apart, which is very 
natural. Amongthefour great deadly sins the gurutalpa is always found. 
^ A truly prieftly addition, at any rate inserted later, but typical. 
But the "punishment by ftudy " in Vasishtha, xxvii, 19, Vishnu, 
XXX, 4-8, is juft as important, and many like things. 

2 Cp. Manu, xi, 177 f. Those spoken of here are not women 
who for once forget themselves, but those who are utterly vicious 
(vipradushta) and will have no check or bridle put on them. 

3 That is, if she is unfaithful to a husband of higher cafte, especially 
a Brahman (according to the comment, only such a one is meant), 
and consorts with one of a lower cafte. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

doer burn" (xii, 165.63 ff.).^ Cf. also xiii, 11 1.89 fF. ; xii, 

^ The law books and the Puranas no less angrily brand intercourse 
with a woman below a man's own ca^e, and particularly with one 
above it. The Brahman who lies with a slave-woman goes to hell 
(Garudapuranasarod.jiv, 37) ; ifhe goes to a Pariah woman he becomes 
a Pariah himself (Baudh., ii, 2, 4.14 = ii, 2.67 ; Manu, xi, 176) ; 
he is the same as the defiler of the teacher's marriage-bed (Yajnav., 
iii, 231). The man of the three upper caftes who lies with a ^udra 
woman muft be banished (Apaft., ii, 10, 27.8). The man without 
honour who demeans himself to an antya (woman on the loweft 
rung of the social ladder) muft be put to death (Vishnu, v, 43), or 
branded and banished ; a Qudra man so doing becomes himself an 
antya (the antya who goes to an arya or woman of the three upper 
caftes is, of course, put to death). Yajnav., ii, 294. According to 
Para9ara, vii, 8 the Brahman who lies one night with a (Judra woman 
muft live for three years on alms, and recite mantras daily ; while 
X, 5 fF. lays down for intercourse with a Pariah woman fixed penalties, 
which also consift of gifts of oxen. It is significant that it is the ^udra 
man who suffers moil here, and so upwards to the Brahman, who only 
has to faft for three nights. Manu punishes intercourse with a woman 
of lower cafte by heavy fines (viii, 373 ; 382-5). Apaftamba, ii, 
10, 27.8 punishes with banishment the man of the three upper ca^es 
who finds delight with a Qudra woman. Naturally the dragging 
down of a woman is a ^ill worse thing. A Kshattriya, Vai^ya, or 
Qudra who lies with a Brahman woman is burnt. This same fate 
befalls the ^udra man who sins with a Kshattriya or a Vai^ya 
woman, and the Vaigya man who sins with a Kshattriya woman. 
Vasishtha, xxi, 1-5. There is at lea^ this much, however, that good 
grass, but less so as we go down the caftes, is used for this fiery cleansing. 
It is in a fire of ftraw according to Baudh., ii, 2.52 f. that the (Judra 
man suffers death ; others muft keep chafte for a year (but cp. the 
commentator). The man's death alone can atone for his intercourse 
with a woman of a higher cafte (Narada, xii, 70 ; Yajnav., ii, 286). 
If a (^udra has intercourse with an Arya woman, then his penis is 
cut off and his property confiscated ; if the woman was a ward 
he is put to death. Gaut., xii, 2 f. ; Manu, viii, 374. Apa^., ii, 
10, 27.9—10 simply enjoins execution for this case. Heavypunishment 
also befalls according to Manu, viii, 375, the Kshattriya or the Vaigya 
man who defiles a Brahman woman, in certain circumstances even 
death by fire like the (^udra man. And so on with other cases. The 
woman who thus lowers herself comes out of it, according to many 

The Pleasures of Sex 

codes of law with very little harm, but according to others very badly. 
The glance of the woman who has had to do with a man from a ca^e 
below her, like the ^udra man, makes unclean. Apa^., i, 3, 9.1 1— 12. 
Apaft., ii, 10, 27.10, condemns the woman who commits adultery 
with a ^udra man to facing and mortification only. Vasishtha, xxi, r-5 
ordains as follows : The Brahman woman who had to do with a 
^udra, a Vaigya, or a Kshattriya man has her head shaven, her body 
smeared over with butter, and is led naked along the ftreet on an ass, 
which is black where the intercourse was with a ^udra man, yellow 
for a Vaifva man, white for a Kshattriya man ; thus she is cleansed 
again. 1 3 prescribes, according to the ca^e of the fellow-offender, 
various mortifications (cp. 20) for the adulteress who lets herself be 
embraced by a man under her rank. It seems therefore to be a 
que^on whether the sinning woman has done more evil or less, as 
Buhler holds (cp. e.g. Manu, xi, 177, 178). So also Baudh., ii, 3.49 ff. 
But according to Vas., xxi, 12 a woman of the three higher caftes 
who has received a ^udra man can be rid of her guilt by making an 
atonement, only if she has not got with child thereby; and 
in any case, if she sinks ftill lower, then she muft be ca^ out (10). 
If a woman does wrong with a man below her cafte, she has to suffer, 
according to Yajnav., ii, 286, the cutting off of her ears, and suchhke 
punishment (=Agnipur., 258.69b). Yajflav., iii, 298 declares: 
The principal offences of a woman leading to loss of ca^e are : inter- 
course with the low (nica), abortion, and murder of her husband. 
So essentially Gautama, xxi, 9. Para^ara, x, 16-19, as already 
mentioned, lets her that has been ravished by a Pariah be cleansed 
by the penance in the well, and rites of purification and mortification, 
and then by her monthly course. The same punishment as in the 
MBh. falls on the woman committing the crime of having connexion 
with a man of a lower cafte (nihinavarnagamana) according also to 
Gaut., xxiii, 14. According to Manu, viii, 371 f. the haughty (jflati- 
^rigunadarpita) adulteress and her fellow are to have their reward in 
the way given in the Epic. For this purpose there are specially trained 
dogs (Manu, viii, 371 ; Agnipur., 227.42). So too Brihaspati, xxiii, 
I 5, prescribes this death (or mutilation) for the bold woman who herself 
comes into the man's house, and seduces him ; the man thus surprised 
naturally comes off more lightly. The inveterate adulteress is in 
general put to death (Vishnu, v, 1 8) ; and Yajnav., ii, 279 f. ordains : 
A wholly bad woman, such a one as has killed a man or deftroyed 
a dam is to be drowned with ^ones round her neck, unless she be 
with child. Of a woman that makes poison, of one that is an incen- 
diary, or of one who slays husband, guru, or child, the ears, nose, 
lips and hands shall be cut off, and she be put to death by bulls. But 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

A man shall not even look on a Granger naked woman 
(xii, 193.17).^ The evil-doer who looks with sinful eyes on a 
naked woman is born again as a weakling (xiii, 145-5 1 > 
162.47) j and he that looks on his neighbour's wife with impure 
eyes comes into the world blind at birth for his wickedness 
(9I. 50). Involuntary shedding of seed muft also be atoned for,^ 

husband and wife are reminded not to bring one another before the 
court of juftice (Narada, xii, 89). It is for the husband in the fir^ place 
to punish the adulteress. Of this more will be said later. Of course 
the Epic, the law writings and the Puranas threaten the ^udra 
especially, who embraces a Brahman woman, with the moft awful 
Samsara punishment; and according to MBh., xii, 165.35, 36 if 
a man not a Brahman and a Brahman woman have relations with one 
another, loss of cafte follows, as also with agamyagamana. Cp. 
Meyer, Kautilya, 263.31 fF. 

The treatment, given in the text, following xii, 165, of the woman 
who defiles herself with a man below her rank has particularly roused 
horror in Professor Hopkins. We may here be reminded of our own 
forefathers, who were after all very well-inclined to women. " No 
free maiden could marry a man of the servile class without suffering 
servitude or capital punishment. . . . The Burgundian law provided 
that both the free maiden and the slave be slain. . . . Among the 
Goths, if a free woman married her own servant they were both 
to be flogged in public and burned at the ^ake" (Rullkoetter, T^he Legal 
Protedion of Woman Among the Ancient Germans, Chicago, 1900, 
pp. 58,59). AmongcertainSouthSeaislanders the nobleman marrying 
a girl from the people was punished by death (We^ermarck, 370 f. 
after Waitz-Gerland). Noblesse oblige : the heavy punishment 
falls on him who is high, for he mu^ show himself worthy of the 
honour he gets, and avoid any debasing of himself Among the Old 
Indians it is never marriage but adultery with such a man that is 
the objed: of these threats. 

1 Cp. Vishnupur., iii, 12.12; Mark.-Pur., xxxiv, 23; Manu, 
iv, 53 ; Vishnu, Ixxi, 26 ; Yajnav., i, 135 ; Gautama, ix, 48. Cp. 
Meyer, Altind. Rechtsschr., index under " Nacktheit ". 

2 Cp. Manu, ii, 181 f . ; Gaut., xxiii, 20; Vishnu, xxviii, 51 
I (and the parallels in Jolly's transl.) ; Yajnav., iii, 278 ; Baudhayana, 
':ii, 1.28 (=ii, I, 1.29). Onanism is also of course punished. Of 

special importance is this in the case of the brahmacarin (the disciple 
bound to charity). According to Vasishtha, xxiii, 4 this offence muft 
be atoned for in juft the same way as the Veda-learner's intercourse 
with a woman. Cp. Manu, ii, 180. But if the brahmacarin goes 


The Pleasures of Sex 

and this according to xii, 34.26, is done by a fire-ofFering. 
Seed and the shedding of seed is, indeed, magically dangerous. 
It also belongs to full charity, as already mentioned, that a 
man should not know a woman (prajanati, i, 64.117) before 
she has reached puberty (apraptayauvana). Perhaps the heights 
of considerate charity are reached by Nakula, the hero beautiful, 
" moft worthy of gaze in all the world," who goes off into 
banishment plastered with du^ all over his body, as he does 
not wish to turn the women's heads on the way (ii, 80.6.18). 

It is in the light, then, of the passages given on the importance 
ofoffspring that the ordinance in xii, 35.27 mu^t be underwood, 
which seems to be at variance with the commandments of 
charity : " If a man is begged for it (bhikshite) as for a pious 
alms, lying with the wife of another does not put a ftain on law 
and virtue." The commentator says : If a man is begged by 
a woman for the dharma's sake : " Pour in the seed"! " And as 
this half verse ^lanHs^in a didadtic discourse highly tinged with 
Brahman views. Nil. is undoubtedly right, and we hardly need 
have in thought a generous chivalry on the man's, namely the 
warrior's, side, such as comes into the myth of ^armishtha 
and Yayati.^ 

to a woman (avakirnin), then according to MBh., xii, 24 he mu^ be 
clad for six months in an ox-skin and carry out the penance of the 
Brahman-murderer, and also in xii, 34.1 fF. his name is given along with 
the slayer of a man of the prieflly class and other wicked evil-doers, and 
prayagcitta (atonement) is imposed on him. Cp. v, 38.4. According 
to the law writings he gets cleansed again by sacrificing in the night 
at a cross-ways to Nirriti (goddess of corruption) a (one-eyed) ass. 
The sinner muft put on the ass's skin with the hair outside, and (with 
a red begging-bowl) beg at seven houses, making known his deed. 
(He muft eat only once a day, and bathe in the morning, at midday, 
and in the evening.) Besides this other offerings and atonement rites 
are also given. Baudhayana, ii, 1.29— 34 ; iii, 4 ; iv, 2.10 f. ; Apaft., 
i, 9, 26.8 ; Vasishtha, xxiii, 1—3 ; Manu, xi, 1 19-124 ; Yajnav., iii, 
280; Vishnu, xxviii, 48 ff. ; Gautama, xxiii, 17-19; xxv, 1-5; 
Parask.-Grihyas., iii, 12. i ff. ; Agnipur., 169.15b— i8a (essentially ^^ 
Manu, xi, 119 ff.). Any other self-poliuter comes off lightly 
(bathing, Vishnu, liii, 4, etc. ; to say the Gayatri a thousand times, and 
three times to hold the breath [pranayama] in Paragara, xii, 63 ; 
and so on). Cp. Baudh., iii, 7.1-7 ; iv, 2.13 ; Apa^., i, 9, 26.7 ; 
Manu, xi, 174 ; Vishnu, liii, 4 ; Gaut., xxv, 7. 
^ Cp. too the words of this king in i, 83.32—34. 

K 257 


The Continence of Man 

NOT only is the refraining from adultery a part of the five- 
fold dharma (xiii, 141.25), but the Epic, as does Indian 
literature so often, declares : " Charity is the highe^ virtue " 
(or : the highe^ law, brahmacaryarn paro dharmah, e.g. 
in i, 170.71). In this passage it is not a queftion of the purity 
of the ascetic, but since Arjuna is living a cha^e life — the 
scene belongs to the time when the brothers are going to 
Draupadl's choosing a husband — he can overcome the 
Gandharva Arigaraparna during the night. Now Arjuna, 
at lea^ later on, is no very great paragon of charity, for during 
the twelve years' continence he undertakes he has various 
erotic adventures (with Citrarigada, i, 215 ; with Subhadra, 
i, 219 ff.). The in^rudlive either-or that the snake fairy 
Ulupl then forces on his conscience does not give him much 
difficulty : the love-fired lady puts it before him (as happened 
to the young hero in Barlaam and Josaphat and to others in 
Ea^ and We^) that by rejeding her he will also have her death 
on his soul ; and he is at once ready to save the fair one's life 
(i, 214). Bhishma, on the other hand, who for love of his 
father, has renounced all the joys of love and family, takes his 
vow very earne^ly, and will not have the slighted thing to do 
with anything that is woman, that is called woman, or has 
anything whatever in common with woman. See especially 
V, 172.16-20, and Nllakantha's gloss. By ^i9upala, who in 
this is certainly not alone, he is indeed mo^ basely suspedled 
because of his rare virtue (ii, 41.2, 25 ; 42.8). 

Naturally in the Epic, too, the ascetic shines in the mo^ 
glorious of haloes, and great is the worth and the might of his 
utter renunciation of sex. Bhishma thus teaches Yudhishthira : 
" He that on earth from birth to death observes charity, for 
him there is nothing beyond reach, know this, O herdsman 
of men. But many tens of millions of Rishis live in the world 


The Continence of Man 

of Brahma who take their pleasure in the Truth, ever bridle 
their senses, and keep wholly continent. Continence that is 
praftised burns up all that is evil, especially in the Brahman, 
for the Brahman is called a fire " (xiii, 75.35 ff.). Divine 
in the word's deeped meaning is this virtue, but it is not an easy 
one. Thus in xii, 214.7 ^- ^^ ^^^ '• " -^^ ^^ ^^^^ form of 
Brahman (the divine Absolute and Fir^ Cause, the Atman) 
called Chastity, it ^ands higher than any of the virtues (religious 
ordinances) ; through it we come into the highe^ Being, 
into the Featureless, the Unconnedled, which is taken out of 
the realm of sound and sensation, which, through the ear is 
hearing, and through the eye seeing, which as speech proceeds 
from speaking, and which is without manas. Let a man 
make the firm resolve of (this Brahman, of) spotless charity, 
through the channel of the buddhi. He that lives wholly therein 
reaches the world of Brahman, he of the moderate life therein 
reaches the gods, and he that is with knowledge, who only 
gives himself up to the lesser pradlice of it, is born again as one 
that ^ands out among the Brahmans. Hard indeed is charity. 
Hear, then, the way from me. The passion that has kindled 
and risen let the twice-born one keep under. Let him not 
give ear to speech of women,^ nor gaze upon them, when they 
are unclothed. In some way or other through the sight of them 
passion may take hold of the weak man. If passion arises in 
him, then let him undergo mortification. ^ If he is in great 
erotic traits," then let him put himself in water. If he is 

^ This can mean : " women's speech " or " speech about women ". 
The very sound of woman's voice inflames the heart, as Buddhi^ic 
tales, especially, show. 

2 Or as the commentator says : the vow of fafting, which consi^s 
in his eating only in the morning for three days, then for three days 
only in the evening, for three days more eating what he has got without 
asking, and the three laft days nothing at all. Cp. Manu, xi, 212, and 
the parallels therewith. 

^ Maharti. Cp. in my translation of Kshemendra's Samayama- 
trika, p. 59, note i ; MBh., iii, 46.44 ; Divyavadana (ed. Cowell and 
Neil), pp. 2 54, 255 (kle^a and roga = hot desire) ; Damodaragupta's 
Kuttanimatam in my transl., pp. 59, 131. There vyadhi is anyhow = 
hot desire. With kandu in the same passage cp. the Finnish kutku, 
itching = hot desire. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

overwhelmed ^ in sleep, then let him whisper in his soul thrice 
the prayer that cleanses sin away.^ Thus will the wise man 
burn up the evil that is the inward passion, through his ever 
ready manas ^ bound up with knowledge." 

That even the ^ridle^ penitents are not proof again^ 
woman is shown by innumerable Indian tales, and by a whole 
set of them in the Epic. As an irresi^ible power dwells in perfeft 
asceticism, and heaven and earth are no more than clay in 
the hands of such a holy one, so even the gods in heaven tremble 
before him, and Indra, who fears to be dethroned by the mighty 
one, is well known to send at such times one of the unspeakably 
lovely fays of heaven, one of the hetaera-like Apsarases, down 
to the dangerous one. If he is really love-proof, he is usually 
overpowered by such rage that he sends forth his curse and 
so crashes down from his heights. It is true that the pious 
Tri^iras (" three heads "), whom a whole troop of these 
courtesans of paradise seek to seduce with every wanton art, 
keeps an untroubled peace of soul, and Indra has to slay him 
with the thunder-bolt (v, 9). But what nearly always happens 
is that the ascetic is fired with lu^, and forgets his charity. 
Thus it is with the famed Vi^vamitra, who begets (^akuntala 
with the Apsaras Menaka. Indra entru^s this heaven-maiden, 
surpassing all her sixers in loveliness, with the delicate task. But 
she sets before him the more than divine deeds of this royal 
Rishi, and says that he who by the might of his fire burns all the 
worlds, brings the earth to quake with his foot, can roll up (or : 
overturn) Mount Meru and the quarters of the world, 
— he that before now has made new worlds with new ^arry 
sy^ems will de^roy her by fire in his rage. Therefore the 

^ By passion. Or, by the shedding of seed, as the comment, takes 
it. But this second meaning would not harmonize with the passage 
juft quoted, xii, 34.26. 

2 Or that cleanses evil away (aghamarshana). The reference is to 
Rgv., X, 190. 

3 The manas, the " inner sense ", is the channel for the impressions 
of the perceptual senses, and brings about the aftion of the adtive 
senses ; so too it is the seat of the wishes, of desire. The buddhi 
is the faculty " of diftinguishing, of determining, of judgment, and of 
decision." See Garbe, Sankhyaphilosophie, pp. 244-72. 


The Continence of Man 

king of the deathless ones muft send with her the god of 
love and the wind to help. This is done ; and when the 
enchanting one ^ands before the penitent, the wind is wafted 
thither laden with foreft scents, and blows the wanton one's 
garment away. She bends down hazily after it, smiling shame- 
facedly. But Vi^vamitra is so carried away by the charms of her 
bared body that he invites her to love, " and the faultless one 
wishes for it, too." The two ^ay together a long age, but it 
goes by them like one day (i, 71.20 ff.). In the Ramayana 
Menaka happens to bathe near Vi^vamitra, and overborne by 
love he asks her to lie with him. Ten years go by him, in pleasure 
and ec^asy with her, like one day and night. Then he comes to 
himself, and by fresh mortification sets the gods and Rishis in 
dread. Indra now bids the Apsaras Rambha to undertake the 
saving work of sedudlion. As she is fearful of the adventure 
so fraught with disa^er, he goes himself to ftand by her, changed 
into a kokila-bird, and accompanied by the god of love. The 
^aunchness of the holy man is indeed shaken by the bird's 
sweet, heart-mazing notes, and the incomparable singing and 
semblance of the nymph, but he sees that it is a snare of Indra's, 
and falls into such anger that he curses the temptress into ^one, 
and so loses his penitential powers (Ram., i, 63, 64).^ 

Particularly frequent in the Mahabh. are the tales of penitents 
who at the mere sight of a lovely woman are thrown into an 
orgasm, ^aradvant, the son of Gotama, not only highly learned 
in the Veda, but also an eager and skilful bowman, brings 
torturing pain to the prince of the gods through his asceticism. 
Indra sends down the heaven-maid Janapadi to make him human. 
When the fore^-brother sees the very lightly clad and 
enchanting creature, he ^ands there with wide-opened eyes, 
his bow and arrow fall to the ground, and a shudder goes through 
his body. He makes, indeed, a brave ftand, but his excitement 
drives his seed forth without his noticing it. He leaves his 
beloved arrow lying there, and flees before the all too dangerous 

1 A free poetical version, fusing the two tales together, is to be 
found in my colleftion of poems Asanka, Sudsckata, Tangara und andre 
Dichtungen, p. 58 ff. Good, too, is iii, 1 10.40 : Since Rishyagringa in 
the foreft away from the world never saw a human being (that is, 
no woman either) besides his father, therefore remained he so chafte. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

one. Out of his seed, poured into the cane-brake and spHt into 
two, arises a twin pair, Kripa and Kripl, who are found by- 
King (^antanu when he is hunting, and then adopted 
(i, 130. 1 ff. ; cp. V, 166.20 f. ; 55.49). The zealous ascetic 
Bharadvaja sees the young Apsaras GhritacI, who, wrapped 
only in her blinding naked loveliness, is bathing in the river. 
His seed that escapes in the love-urge he puts in a pitcher 
(drona), and Drona comes into being, the famous teacher of 
arms to the Pandavas and other princes (i, 130.33 ff. ; i, 
166. 1 ff.).^ ix, 48.64 ff. tells us that Bharadvaja's seed, that 
came forth because of GhritacI, dropped into a leaf packet and 
thus gave life to (^rutavatl. Thus, too, it is GhritacI who in 
like wise helps Vyasa to get a son. He is ju^ then busily engaged 
getting fire with the two rubbing-^icks. The lovely one arouses 
a violent ftorm of love in his soul, " which surges through all 

^ In this laft-named passage also the wind carries off the lovely 
one's garment, while in chap. 130 the drunken wanton seems to 
let it fall herself on the bank. To bathe naked is, indeed, not the 
Indian cuftom ; it is even looked on as a dreadful sin (originally 
because of the danger of spirits). See note 3, p. 203 of my Hindu 
T*?/^/ ; MBh.jvii, 73.32, 82.9 ; xiii, 20.1 ff. ; 104.51, 67 ; Kuttanim., 
366; Parask.-Grihyas., ii, 7.6; Agva.-Grih., iii, 9.6; Qankh.- 
Grih., iv, 12.31 ; Gaut., ix, 61 ; Baudh., ii, 3, 6.24 ; Vishnu, liv, 
23 ; Ixiv, 5 ; Manu, iv, 45 ; xi, 202 ; Yajnav., iii, 291 ; Mark.- 
Pur., xxxiv, 34; Agnipur., 155.22 ; Bhagavatapur., x, 22 (here the 
shepherdesses are bathing naked, Krishna carries off their clothes and 
says in 9I. 19 that as they [here indeed as dhritavrata] have jumped 
unclad into the water, they have mocked the gods). Yet even the 
pious, cha^e wife of Cyavana bathes naked (iii, 123. i), and wholly 
unclothed bathing women are also often found elsewhere, but especially 
those of the band of heavenly fays, who in this, too, show the way for 
their sifter wantons on earth. See, for inftance, further xii, 333.17 f., 
28-30, and in my version of Kshemendra's Samayamatrika, p. xviii. 
Bathing-clothes (in the house) are called snana9ati in xiii, 20.1 ff. Also 
sleeping naked is forbidden (e.g. Manu, iv, 75; Gaut., ix, 60; 
Vishnu, Ixx, 3 ; of course here, too, the fear of magical harm is the 
real basis). On the other hand it is well known that people in Germany, 
even, down to Luther's time slept without any clothing whatever, and 
even later than that time this cusT:om is widespread. See Stratz, 
Die Frauenkleidung, etc. 3, p. 19 ff. ; Max Bauer, Das Geschlechts- 
leben i. d. deutsch. Vergangenheit ^, p. 40. 


The Continence of Man 

his limbs, and overwhelms his understanding." But he holds 
himself in check, and although his seed falls onto the lower 
fire-^ick, he goes on ^eadfa^ly, and so in the end twirls his 
son ^uka into life (xii, 324.1 fF.). Mankanaka, the fore^- 
dweller living in the unspoiled purity of youth, puts his seed into 
his water-vessel, when, while he is washing in the SarasvatI, 
he sees a glorious woman bathing naked, and his semen thus 
spurts out into the waves. Seven Rishis thus arise, the 
fathers of the wind gods (ix, 38.32). The same gift came to the 
SarasvatI from the holy Dadhica, when at Indra's bidding the 
Apsaras Alambusha appeared before him. But the river goddess 
this time took the seed into her bosom, and bore a son, whom 
the father later v/elcomed with joy (ix, 51.5 ff.). Rishya^ririga, 
whom we shall meet with again, has a like origin. But here it 
is the bathing Ka^yapa who is birred by the loveliness of 
Urva^I. A she-gazelle drinks up the love-sap along with the 
water, and bears Rishya^ririga (iii, 110.34).^ Cp. Windisch, 
Biiddhas Geburt, etc., p. 21 ; Chavannes, Cinq cents contes^ ii, 
283 ; iii, 234 f. ; Hartland, Primit. Patern., pp. 12 ; 23 f. ; 
151 f ; Weber's Ind. Studien, xiv (1875), p. 1 21 f. ; also 
MBh., xiii, 85.17 ff. 

^ The same Urva^i is seen by Varuna, the prince of the waters, 
playing with her girl-friends, who is fired by her, and seeks to lie with 
her. She tells him that her love, indeed, is his, but her body is Mitra's. 
But his fire now is too hot, and with her glad consent he discharges 
the seed into a pitcher, and in this the fruit is formed (Ram., vii, 
56.12 ff.). Varuna, it is true, is no saint, and his rape of Utathya's 
wife will be described later on. Cp. further Hartland, Prim. Patern., 
i, 12, 23, 151 (fertilization by drinking sem.en). According to K, i, 
I 50, the king of Paflcala lived a life of ^erneft penance in the foreft 
that he might get a son. There one day he saw the Apsaras Menaka 
in the blooming a(;oka-for.eft. His seed fell onto the ground, and filled 
with shame, he trod on it with his feet. From his seed arose King 
Drupada, the father of Draupadi. Such tales are found already in 
Vedic times, as the origin of Agaftya and Vasishtha shows. Cp. Sieg, 
Sagenfioffe d. Rigveda, p. 105 If. 


The Pleasures of Venal Love 

AWAY in the foreft the penitent_buried himself in the 
deeped my^ ^eries, or hv ed piou sly cut off from the world, 
and ^rove earnestly, although not always with complete success, 
after a Painless chaftity ; but in the towns and cities the harlot, 
often very wealthy and of great di^inftion and quite often 
very well educated, went in her splendour along the ^reet, 
taking to herself the fiery eyes and hearts of the men, but above 
all their purses — India is the land of sharped contracts. And in 
what civilized land has not " venal love " played its part ? 
The Hindu has always sung the praises of " the public 
woman " as the very type and embodiment of perfeft woman- 
hood.^ In the Epic, too, as already in the Veda, the woman 
for sale is something that is a matter of course, even though the 
enraptured song of praise to these earthly lieutenants of the 
unembodied god of love, as sung especially in the artificial 
poetry, is here wanting. Ever since those dim days, when, 
according to the already told legend of the Mahabh. (i, 104.36), 
Dirghatamas, saint, and poet of the Veda songs, blind from 
birth, brought into the world the pleasures of love granted for 
ringing coin, th e horizontaT trade had been flourishing in the 
land of India ; and if the " public woman, open to the visits 
of all ' (narl praka9a sarvagamya) wore a red garment, a red 

1 On her see my three books: Daridin'sDa9akumaracaritam,p.46fF. 
and 205 ff., Kshemendra's Samayamatrika, and Damodaragupta's 
Kuttanlmatam (all published by Lotosverlag, Leipzig), where, however, 
I should now like to add much, and in some things to make some 
changes. See, too, in my Kautilya the passages under " Luftdirne ". 
There is no need, perhaps, to make mention of R. Schmidt's excellent 
works : Fdisyayanas Kamasutra, Indische Erotiky and Liebe und 
Ehe in Indien. In them will be found abundant information on this 
leading figure in the Indian life of love, or rather lechery. 


The Pleasures of Venal Love 

wreath, and red gold (viii, 94.26), by this garb, recalling the god 
of death and the public execution, ^ she was not marked out 
as something criminal or ill-omened, although, of course, her 
class took a low rank in the social order, but it was far rather 
that she mu^ be di^inguishable for the greater ease and comfort 
of the world of men, as for in^ance the charitable sifters of the 
order of Saint Amor, in the German Middle Ages by their 
yellow dress so often spoken of ^ 

^ In a model city, according to Meyer, Kautilya, 75.1 ; Agnip., 
106.7, they mu^ dwell also in the southern part, that is, in Yama's 
quarter of the heavens. On red as the colour of death see the good 
essay of Fr. v. Duhn, " Rot und Tot ", Arch.f. Religionswissenschafty 
Bd. 9, p. I ff. 

2 But the German city-fathers may usually have had quite other 
ends in view in laying down such marks for them. See, e.g., G. Wuft- 
mann, "Frauenhauser u. freie Frauen i. Mittelalter,"y^rr/^. /". Kultur- 
gesch., Bd. 5, p. 469 ff. ; Max Bauer, Die Dime u. ihr Anhang, 
p. no ff. Mantegazza {Geschlechtsverhaltnisse d. Menschen, p. 363, 
note) reports a catalogue of the sixteenth century which came out in 
Venice, and offered for everyone's needs the mo^ exact information 
as to the public women living in this city. Suchlike lifts from old and 
from modern times are to be found in Iwan Bloch, Die Pro.Qitution, 
i, 491. About the red garb of the harlot see Da^akumaracar., p- 51- 
Red is the moft: favoured colour on earth (Stratz, Die Frauenkleidung ^, 
p. 74), and also in India the colour of life, passion, love {Hindu Tales, 
p. 106 ; Tod, Rajaflhan, i, 61 2 ; red at the Holi feftival ; and so on) ; 
it is the moft usual colour for women's clothing in the Epic also (e.g. 
1,221.19; 212.9; xii, 296.20 ; xiii, 45.5), and then yellow. Both 
are very elegant, as yellow was the modish colour, too, in the German 
Middle Ages. Cp. Billington, //'ow^z? ;> /^r^/'^, pp. 76 ; 181; 183. 
Then harlots and criminals like keeping up survivals from a rougher 
culture, as for inftance tattooing and a superftitious religiosity among 
ourselves also (cp. e.g. Maupassant's " Maison Tellier "). As red 
is so mighty a scarer of demons, it is no doubt on this account that it 
is to the liking of the always-highly-endangered lightning conductors 
of public vice. At the love visit by night, it is true, Rambha in the 
Ram., and Urvaqii in the MBh. wear dark clothing, but naturally to 
be less seen. The white garments of the fair one hastening to the 
tryft: is often mentioned in Indian literature, and made use of for poetical 
feats of skill. Red wreaths are worn too by the hetasrs of heaven 
when they make their way to the hour of dalliance (Ram., iv, 24.34), 

K« 265 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

The ve9ya or trumpets are in the Epic, as elsewhere in 
Indian hterature, an important part of the hfe of the city. When 
the great fight is to burfb forth, and the armies are there fully 
equipped, Yudhishthira, the pious one, sends into the royal 
city, among many other more or less tender greetings, one, too, 
to these granters of delight : " A-ly dear friend, ask after 
the welfare of the fair-decked, fair-clad, scented, pleasing, 

as they are by the earthly abhisarika. Although according to xiii, 
104.84 no red wreaths are to be worn, but only white ones, yet red 
flowers may be worn on the head. But kamala and kuvalaya are to 
be altogether avoided. Vishnu, Ixxi, 11— 12 is very ftrong that no 
red wreaths but water-flowers are to be worn. Cp. Gobhila, Grihyas., 
iii, 5.15. As, indeed, white is in general the lucky colour, and red often 
the colour of ill-hap, of evil magic, and of death, white wreaths are 
among the lucky things, red among those foreboding evil. In the main, 
white flowers are also to be offered to the gods, red ones and black 
to the spirits (bhuta), and red-flowered plants with prickles serve to 
bewitch foes. To the Yakshas, Gandharvas, and Nagas let water- 
flowers be offered. That Kama, however, the god of love, was wor- 
shipped with red a9oka-fiowers is shown, for iniftance, by Gaudavaho, 
754. It is natural that Qiva, the god of the souls of the dead, and of 
procreation, should wear red wreaths (xii, 284.147). Cp., too, 
Billington, p. 222 f. Flowers that have grown on a graveyard or in 
sanctuaries of the gods mu^ not be brought along to the wedding 
or to the pleasures of love (rahas). See Ram., v, 27 ; ii, 25.28 ; 
MBh., xiii, 98.28 if.; and cp. also Zachariae, Zeitschr. d. Ver. f. 
Volksk., Bd. 14, p. 303 f, 397, note 3 ; Lewy, Zeitschr. d. Ver. f. 
Fo/ksk., Bd. 3, p. 136 f . ; then Dubois-Beauchamp ^, p. 645 (red 
flowers for the bhuta) ; ibid., 388 (red flowers offered at magic rites) ; 
Thurfton, Omens and Suferlliiions, etc., pp. 42, 47, 48 (white flowers 
lucky, red unlucky). Red turbans and red garments are to be worn 
by the prices at the sacrifice that is offered up as magic again^ foes. 
Baudh., i, 6, I 3.9. Cp. ii, 8, 15.5. Here no less belongs the following 
solemn magical rite : He who in disputes fixes the boundary wears 
red garb and on his head red wreaths (and earth). Yajnav., ii, 152 ; 
Narada, xi, 10 ; Brihaspati, xix, i i ; Manu, viii, 256. Rules as to 
which flowers are to be offered the gods and the forefathers, and which 
not are given also in Vishnusmriti, Ixvi, 5—9. Cp. Agnipur., ccii, i ff. 
and ccxlviii, as also Mahanirvanat., v, 147 ff. In the third passage 
it is, however, at the same time taught that beft as offerings are the 
fifteen spiritual flowers. 


The Pleasures of Venal Love 

happy, pleasure-fraught women of the houses of joy 
(ve^a^riyah), whose glance and speech ghde so easily and 
sweetly along " (v, 30.38). Indeed, the heroes in their camps 
have no need to feel themselves alone : on both sides, besides 
other objedls of a luxurious life, they have taken with them plenty 
of these mo^ necessary supplies. When they march out to the 
battlefield of Kurukshetra, in the mid^ of the army of the 
Pandavas is Yudhishthira, as also ^akatapanaveqia? ca yanayugam 
ca sarva^ah " carts, traders' goods, and pavilions, and the 
chariots and draught-animals in a body" (v, 151.57—58; 
cp. 196.26). These chariots and draught-animals are certainly 
for the hetaeras also, perhaps for them fir^t of all, for in the 
Epic the better sort of women, particularly the noblewomen 
and the Kshattriyas, usually drive in yana.^ When the camp has 
been pitched on the battlefield, these sedlions take their place 
in the baggage-train in the rear. The enemy force under 
Duryodhana is accompanied by craftsm.en, professional singers, 
spies, and ganika (women of pleasure, v, 195.18, 19) ; and in 
9loka 12 we are further told expressly : " But Duryodhana had 
the encampment made like another embellished Haslinapura." 
In the Ramayana (ii, 36) Da^aratha gives orders for a splendid 

^ Ratha is seldom found here. See iii, 293.19 ; iv, 22.11. Yana, 
so far as I know, does not denote a litter in the MBh. ; this is called 
^ibika or perhaps nri-(nara-) yukta yana, and is used especially for 
carrying out dead bodies, but also for women. See i, 127.7, 9> ^i> 
lo.if. ; 16.13; ^ii> 3741 ; XV, 22.20 ; 23.12; xvi, 7.19 ; cp. xvi, 
7.1 1 and 33. On the other hand, at leaft Ram., vi, 114 uses yana 
and gibika as equivalent to one another. Cp. too MBh., iii, 69.21, 23. 
The ladies' chariot is drawn by horses, the moft di^inguished or typical 
beaft of the Kshattriyas (cp. also Baudh., ii, 2; 3.4,9),andbyshe-mules, 
sometimes by oxen (the Brahmans' beafts), asses, or camels (xvi, 
7.1 1, 33 ; iv, 22.1 1), while according to the law writings the ass and 
the camel are tabu as draught and saddle beafts (see, for inftance, 
Vishnu, liv, 23 ; Manu, xi, 202 ; Yajnav., i, 151 ; iii, 291 ; Jahn, 
Saurapurana, p. 141); and it is an ill omen also for the man in the 
Epic, if he in a vision drives with asses (southwards). But see also 
ix, 35.23. According to the (Jigupalavadha the women ride on asses 
or horses in the army, or drive in light chariots (v, 7 ; xii, 20 ; xii, 14). 
That in particular the 'circulating beauties' (varamukhya) drive along 
in yana wc learn for in^ance from Bhagavatapur., i, 1 1.20. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

army to be fitted out for his son Rama, and there says (9I. 3) : 
" Women that Hve by their beauty, those skilled in words, 
and rich merchants shall adorn the well drawn up troops of 
the prince." Even when the Pandavas with Draupadi and 
other women, and the burghers that wish to go with them set 
out in deeped grief to make sorrowful visit to their mother, 
who has withdrawn into the penitential fore^, and their other 
kinsfolk there dwelling, Yudhishthira gives orders not only 
that the very splendid royal household shall go with them as a 
necessary retinue, but also that the " chariots, traders' goods, 
and brothels " shall also be taken (xv, 22.21). These women- 
folk were indeed an indispensable part of any expedition. 
Therefore the rulers took them with them when they went 
hunting, or took their diversion in the country, not to speak of 
the excursions to the pleasure-gardens. Thus Duryodhana 
goes hunting with his brothers and friends, and to brand the 
cattle in the herdsmen's Nations away in the fore^. It is a 
splendid setting out for the green depths, which is very 
excellently described : the wives of the Kshattriyas go with 
them in thousands, burghers along with their wives, then singers, 
too, and skilled huntsmen in crowds ; and traders and the girls 
of joy have their regular place (iii, 239.22 ff.). Princes that 
find their delight in horses, elephants, and harlots are evidently 
not an unusual thing (Ram., ii, 100.50). As so often in other 
literature, the ilrumpet is not only the camp's ornament, but 
the ornament too of civic life, that lovely-coloured, scented 
flower that the city puts in its hair for all to see, when a festival 
or some other joyful event is being celebrated.^ King Virata 

^ It is mentioned times beyond number that the " city beauties " 
dance on joyful occasions. So, too, Mark.-Pur., cxxviii, 9. The 
very sight of them brings good luck, while, for inftance, the sight of a 
pregnant woman foretells evil. Agnipur., 230.4, r i ; v. Negelein, 
Traumschliissel d. Jagaddeva^ p. 132 f . ; Bloch, Die Proflitution, 
I, 474-476. Therefore the Vishnusmriti (Ixiii, 29) bids the father 
of a family : When he is on the journey — well known to be an under- 
taking under the threat of magic — he shall, as on Brahmans, filled 
water-pitchers, fire, and other things bringing blessings, so also look 
on harlots. Cp. Thurfton, Omens and Superstitions, etc., pp. 23 ; 
46 f. It is no wonder therefore that these women at public fe^ivals 


The Pleasures of Venal Love 

has with the Pandavas' help been vidlorious in a dreadful 
battle, and now sends messengers with the bidding : " Go into 
the city, and make known my viftory in the fight. Young 
girls shall bedeck themselves, and come out of the city to meet 
me, and all kinds of musical in^ruments, and the beautifully 
adorned ganika " (iv, 34. i 7. 1 8). So, too, as soon as he hears his 
son's arms have been successful, he has him welcomed in the 
triumphal procession of youths and sellers of love, and by the 
young sifter of him that is wearing the diadem of fortune, 
and her girl-friends (iv, 68.24, 26, 29). When Rama is to be 
consecrated as the " young king ", the prieft Vasishtha 
diredls the city to be given a feftal garb and the things set up 
in it that bring good fortune, the temples of the gods and holy 
places to be put in order, and all other preparations to be made. 
Among these is a band of fair-dight daughters of pleasure 
drawn up within the second wall of the royal palace (Ram., ii, 
3.17, 18). And in 14.33 ff. he then sends to tell the king in a 
long lift all the holy and worldly requirements whose fulfil- 
ment he has now seen to, and of all the multitudes of musical 
instruments, and of the well-decked harlots (9I. 39). Rama, 
inftead of going to be dedicated as prince goes into long exile 
and to the ftern fight with Ravana ; but at length he comes 
home again victorious, and then his half-brother, filled with 
holy joy, gives the command : " Pure men shall honour all 
the divinities and the holy places of the city with scented wreaths 
and the playing of music. Suta, well-versed in songs of praise 
and old legends, as also all panegyrics (vaitalika), all mafters 
of musical inftruments, and the ganika in full numbers, the 
king's wives and minifters, the soldiery and the bands of army 
women, the Brahmans and the nobles, and the corporations 
(gana) with the heads of the guilds ^ — all these shall go out to 
beholdthemoonlikecountenanceof Rama" (Ram., vi, 127.1 ff.). 
And when King Ku^ika, together with his wife, comes back 
to his capital after a heavy trial of patience laid on him by the 
Rishi Cyavana, he is received by an escort of honour made up 

and shows had their own particular seats for the spectacle (ganikanarn 
prithagmancah). See Wilson's Vishnupur., ed. Hall, vol. 5, p. 24 f. ; 
p. 58, note ; and cp. my Da^akum., p. 50 ff. 
^ Or: with the guilds at the head .' 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

of the army, the great ones of his kingdom, and the hetasrae 
(xiii, 53.65, 66). To Janaka of Videha, the pious king who has 
penetrated into the deeped secrets of the world, (^uka is sent 
by his father, Quka who came into being from the aranl ^ 
and the seed of Vyasa that fell on it, and who as a wonder-youth 
^ands out through deeped knowledge, loftie^ purity of heart, 
and a mighty asceticism, is sent that the prince so filled with 
the knowledge of salvation may bring him into the holy of 
holies of that knowledge. The gueft is welcomed with great 
honours ; the miniver takes him into the third walled court 
of the royal abode, and there into a splendid pleasure-grove, 
escorts him to a seat, and goes off. " To him came running up 
quite fifty pleasure-girls,^ splendidly dight, fair-hipped, young 
and tender, sweet to gaze on, wearing a thin red garment, 
decked with gleaming gold, well versed in speech and honeyed 
words, skilled in dance and song, speaking mid smiles, like the 
Apsarases in loveliness, praftised in the service of love, gifted 
with the knowledge of the heart's ^irrings, in all things skilful ; 
they offered him water for the feet, and other things, and marked 
him out for the tokens of highe^ honour. Then did they offer 
him well-taking foods belonging to the season of the year. 
When he had eaten, they showed him in all its details the en- 
chanting pleasure-wood by the women's abode. And playing, 
laughing, and singing gloriously, thus did the women, wise in 
their knowledge, v/ait on the youth of the noble nature. But 
he that was sprung from the aranl, he the pure-minded, bare 
of all doubt, was set only on the work before him, and as one 
ma^er of his senses and overcomer of his anger he took no joy,^ 
nor felt anger. These glorious women offered him a heaven- 
like couch (^ayyasana) worthy of the gods, adorned with 

^ The lower rubbing-stick in making fire (naturally often compared 
to the woman). 

- Anyhow such as the Old Indian rulers are wont to keep in their 
harems. Cp. my Da^akum., p. 54; Gaudavaho, 161-166 (haughty 
and merry do bathe the hetsras of King Ya^ovarman in the pleasure- 
tanks of the rulers he has conquered) ; ZDMG,6o, p. 282 f. ; Megha- 
duta, 35 ; Karpuramanjarl, i, 18.6-8 ; Prasannaraghava, iii, ^r. 1 1 ; 
Dacjarupa, ed. Hall, p. 141 at top ; Qigupalav., xi, 20. 

^ Or : was not amorously roused (hrishyate). 


The Pleasures of Venal Love 

precious ^ones, spread with priceless rugs. But when Cuka 
had washed his feet, and performed his evening worship, he sat 
himself down on a bare seat, pondering only on his task." 
He then spent almo^ the whole night sunk in his thoughts, 
and with holy works (xii, 325.33 ff.). 

It was better than this youthful penitent, who was assuredly 
to be put to the te^,^ that the woman's hero Krishna knew how 
to appreciate such marks of hospitality as these. When he is 
sent by the Pandavas to the Kauravas, if possible to bring peace 
about, not only did Duryodhana have reft-houses with women 
and other needful comforts provided for him everywhere on his 
road thither, but Dhritarashtra also gives orders : " My sons 
and grandsons, except Duryodhana, shall all drive to meet 
Janardana in splendid chariots, and finely adorned. And the 
fair harlots shall go on foot, comely-decked, to meet the moft 
high Ke^ava. And all lovely maidens, too, who wish to go 
forth from the city to behold Janardana may go unhindered " 
(v, 86.15, 16).- 

^ So Marco Polo (Yule) ^, ii, p. 366 relates of the Yogis that when 
a man wished to be received as one of them, they firft sent beautiful 
temple-dancers to him to make trial of his fteadfaftness (cp. the note 
there, p. 370). But following the Venetian's description, it seems to be 
not Brahmans who are in queftion, but rather Jains. 

2 In like wise Krishna when he comes back to Dvaraka (Bhaga- 
vatapur., i, 11.20) is, among other things, given a feftal welcome bv 
the servants of love, driving in chariots ; and the Abbe Dubois, moreover, 
tells us that " Ordinary politeness requires that when persons of any 
di^indtion make formal visits to each other they muft be accompanied 
by a certain number of these courtesans " (p. 585). But on the next 
page he Presses that in public the Indian proftitutes are far better 
behaved than their European sifters, and are treated there corre- 
spondingly. Taken by itself, the translation could also be : " All 
the fair maidens from the city who wish to go to see Janardana muft: 
go there naked." But, as already explained, anavrita in the MBh. 
does not seem to mean " unclothed ". Furthermore cp. say xv, 22.22. 
Then, again, such a piece of lewdness would seem to be foreign to the 
Indian of old, however little squeamish he often is. It is mainly confined 
to the Weft, especially to the older hiftory of the Chriftian lands. 
There it often happened that the faireft maidens of the town or city, 
and these the daughters of the patricians, went to meet a diftinguished 
gueft in the coftume of Eve in paradise, and escorted him in. On the 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

exhibition of woman's nakedness in the Middle Ages and later, 
see especially R. Giinther, IFeib u. Sittlichkeit, Berlin, i8g8, 
pp. 141-163 ; and on the public exposure of the hetasrs in Greece 
and Rome, and other matters, sec the same, p. 134 fF., Ploss-Bartels, i, 


As is well known, the va^ numbers of pro^itutes were in the Middle 
Ages also, and not leaft in Germany, well cared for by the State, looked 
on with favour by the townsfolk and the rulers, and the objed especially 
of keen interefl from the clergy and monks, and so forth. Cp. addition, 
375.27 in my Kautilya, and as an explanation of Manu, x, 47, Agnipur., 
151.14b: ^rijivanarn tu, tadraksha, proktarn vaidehakasya ca. A 
visiting prince was entertained with the free entry into the houses of 
ill fame ; the public women even went to meet such auguft lords 
outside the gates as his escort of honour, as was done for King Sigismund 
at Ulm in 1434. References are to be found in Ploss-Bartels, i, 4 1 6 ff. ; 
Gunther, Weib u. Sittlichkeit, p. 197 ff. ; Weinhold, Die deutschen 
Frauen i. d. Mittelalter, ii, 2 ff. ; Schultz, Das hofische Leben zur 
Zeit d. Minnesinger, chap, vii ; Max Bauer, Die Dime u. ihr Anhang, 
pp. 94-100. Here we give only one more passage : " Everywhere 
at public feftivities, especially the reception of princes, they (the 
public women) were represented as a separate class beside the reft 
of the people organized in corporations. When important persons 
were passing through, their (the women's) houses were specially 
ornamented and lighted to receive them ; indeed sometimes on such 
occasions they were clothed at the town's expense. In Zurich it was 
ftill the cuftom in i 5 16 that the burgomafter, the servants of the court 
of juftice, and the public women should eat together with the foreign 
envoys who came to the town " (Dr. C. Bucher, Die Frauenfrage im 
Mittelalter, p. 46 f.). 

The counterpart to the Old Indian glorification of the ganika is, 
as is well known, the high efteera in which the hetsrx were held among 
the Greeks of old ; and in the time of the Abbasids also such ladies are 
said to have held a like position in Baghdad (Schweiger-Lerchenfeld, 
Die Frauen d. Orients, espec. p. 114). They are hkewise held in 
high efteem in Java, in many parts of Africa, and so forth. Gunther 
even delivers himself as follows on p. 82 : " Intercourse with the hetasr^ 
raised the man (in Hellas) quite consciously (!) onto a higher level ; for 
it brought out the individualin him whosoughtout, heedless of the State, 
that other individual akin to him, who brought him, over and above 
the sensual, a lofty spiritual pleasure." Such words would have sounded, 
to the ears of an old Greek, both quite incomprehensibleand ridiculous. 
He looked for the beautiful body, the refinements of love, and enter- 
tainment. This the hetasrse offered him. He had, indeed, honour 


The Pleasures of Venal Love 

This being the adtual importance and value set on the girls 
of pleasure, it can easily be also underwood that the Epic is 
filled with zeal again^ them in its didaftic parts. A vigorous 
saying that is found again and again goes : " As bad as ten 
slaughter-houses is one oil-miller's wheel,^ as bad as ten oil- 
miller's wheels is an inn-sign, as bad as ten inn-signs is a harlot, 
as bad as ten harlots is a king " (xiii, 125.9). The ruler is then 
sharply told : " Drinking-halls and ^trumpets, as also traders 
and mimes, and gamblers and others like them — all these are 
to be held in check as harmful to the kingdom. Where they set 
their feet faft in the kingdom,- they are an infliction for hone^ 
subjeds" (xii, 88.14, I5}-^ 

from such unions, but mainly because he could afford himself such a 
luxury. This had to be dearly bought. The small townsman gave his 
money, the poor poet or artift the fruits of his talent. Then it was 
something di^inguished to yield fitting homage to this the " eternal 
woman ". Cp. Iwan Bloch, Die Profiitution, i, 283 f, ; 340 ff. ; 
354 ff. The same thing is probably true of Old India. Setting aside 
a few exceptions, there could probably be no question in either place 
of real " spiritual pleasures ", not to speak of all the fine things in 
Indian poets, and the myftic-Germanic sentimentalism about the 
union of souls between " kindred individuals ". More sensible here 
is the glowing dithyramb of Robert Hamerling in Socrates' words 
addressed to Theodata {Aspasia, i, p. 234). 

^ Because of de^roying living beings. For this reason by a decree 
of Rana Jey Sing no oil-mill might work during the four rainy 
months. Tod, Rajaslhan, i, 586. Cp. Glasenapp, Der Jainismus, 69. 
For when there is much rain there swarm huge numbers of gnats, 
insefts, and all kinds of nuisances in the air. See MBh., iii, 182.4; 
Fuller, Studies of Indian Life, etc., p. 12 f. 

2 Or : become makers of the kingdom. 

2 As is especially to be seen from Indian narrative literature, the 
harlot and dicing go together. But when Hopkins deduces from 
MBh., ii, 68.1 that "loose women frequent the gambling halls", 
he has misunderftood the text. In the same way thieves and other 
criminals are inseparable from public women, as, for inftance, is so 
often seen from the Da^akumaracaritam. Yajnavalkya, ii, 266, 
therefore, among the four tokens by which the police can catch a thief 
gives that of living in a house of ill-fame (aguddha vasaka) ; cp. 
Meyer, Kautilya, 335.8-336.14; addit. 336.34. In the Jaina 
tale Agaladatta, the harlots' abodes are given as the firfl places where 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

thieves are to be looked for {Hindu Tales, p. 249 f.). A li^ very like 
that given there of the places preferred by criminals is found in Manu, 
ix, 264 fF., and in it, of course, the ve^a (pleasure-house) has also its 
place. The same is true of MBh., xii, 140.41-42. Here pravegashu, 
if it cannot exactly mean brothel (and I do not know of any evidence 
in support), should anyhow be changed to ca vegeshu. But as the 
singular panagare here is in any case extraordinarily rare, we muil 
in all probability read : panagareshu ve^eshu. Thus, too, the parallel, 
in great part like-worded, in i, 140.63-65. Over and above the faft 
that the lift in the MBh. is so like the two former, in Indian literature 
the wine-house and the women's house are separated from one another 
only by a very well oiled folding-door. Among the " open thieves 
or trickfters " (prakagavancaka, praka^alokataskara) is the harlot, 
together with the gamblers and those who use false measures and 
weights, who demand bribes, who make attacks with violence, and who 
live by giving information as to lucky times and ceremonies (Narada, 
Pari^ishta, 2 and 3 ; Manu, ix, 256 ff.) ; and Brihaspati, xxii, 9, says : 
Gamefters, proftitutes, and other swindlers muft: be punished. Cp. 
Wuftmann, " Frauenhauser u. FreieFrauen in Leipzig imMittelalter," 
Zeitschr.f. Kulturgesck., v, p. 473. So the tale comes back then again 
to the ruinousness of inns, harlots, kings, and so on in Manu, iv, 8 5 also, 
and, with some changes, in Yajnav., i, 141. From the harlot the 
Brahman (or the father of a family) muft: not accept anything, nor 
eat any of her food. Vasishtha, xiv, 10 ; li, 14 ; Manu, iv, 209 
(cp. 85, 86) ; Vishnu, li, 7 (otherwise faft: seven days !) ; Yajnav., i, 
161 (cp. 141) ; Agnipur., 168.3-9 (otherwise atonement by mortifica- 
tion). The man of the prieftly cafte muft, of course, never visit her. 
If a Brahman goes to an hetsra, then he muft carry out a heavy mortifi- 
cation so as to be cleansed. Jahn, Saurapurana, p. 140. Intercourse 
with her is on a level with sodomy (Paragara, x, 12 ; Mahanirvana- 
tantra, xl, 43). The slaying of a woman that belongs to all is even free 
from punishment according to Gautama, xxii, 27. But the law 
writings also give them a somewhat more humane consideration. 
Their ornaments, being the tools of their craft, muft: not be confiscated, 
even though the reft of their property be taken from them. Narada, 
xviii, lof. And this " public cheat " muft also aft honourably. If she 
has received her hire from a man, and then refuses, she muft pay the 
double as a fine. Yajnav., ii, 292. According to Agnipur., 227.44b— 
45a, if she has promised herself to a man, and then goes to another, 
then she muft reftore to the injured one double the amount he has 
put down, and furthermore also pay a fine to the royal treasury. 
Kautilya under certain circumftances even condemns her to an eight- 
fold reftitution. See 195. 8-14. If a dispute arises between public 


The Pleasures of Venal Love 

women and their lovers, then the head hetasrae and the lovers shall 
settle it between them. Brihaspati (SBE, vol. xxxiii, p. 266). Very 
inftruftive information is also to be found in ZDMG (= Zeitschr. 
d. deutsch. morgenland. Gesel/sc/i.), Bd. 60, p. 282 f. ; and especially in 
Kautilya ; see index under " Lu^dirne ". In it the public " fair lady '* 
comes off far better than in the Dharma writings. As a matter of course, 
and as is well known, woman and piety go readily hand in hand, and 
in this even the public kind of both these is no exception. Thus 
the holy bathing-places (tirtha) are often known not only as places 
for all kinds of love-making, but also as places where light women 
ply their trade ; and in the Tantra literature at a Devacakra, one kind 
of cycle connected with the worship of a god (or Tantric-my^ic), the 
leading part is played, as (^akti or embodiments of the aftive power 
of the divinity, by those five well-known kinds of harlots: rajave^ya 
(the harlot of rulers), nagari (the city harlot), guptavegya (the secret 
harlot, that is, the woman of good family who secretly follows this 
calling or these joys), devavegya (the harlot of the gods, or temple- 
dancer), and brahmavegya, that is, the tirthaga (the harlot cf the bathing- 
places). See Mahanirvanatantra transl. by M. N. Dutt, 1900, 
p. xxvii f. 

End of Volume I 




IN the artificial poetry, and the text-books of poetry and those 
of love, as oftentimes elsewhere, the hetaera is sung of as 
queen in the land of love. In spite of her unmistakable 
importance for Indian eroticism of the Epic world, however, 
it would be wrong to give her such a place here, too. She is 
there simply an article of necessity. And if Indian literature 
along with those fairly numerous songs of praise for the 
" circulating beauties " is filled with the mo^ splendid love 
Tories and descriptions of the passion of sex — the glowingly 
sensual and the sweetly tender — the Epic in particular yields 
a very great number of pleasing flowers of this same kind. 
And these flowers have also a charm which is at lea^ somewhat 
rare, in that they do not wither and die on some wild heath, but 
go on blooming in the garden of wedlock, and in it fir^ reveal 
the full depths of their glowing colours, and their innermo^, 
^rongeft perfumes. Who does not know DamayantI and 
Savitrl ! And Kalidasa's ^akuntala, however much she has 
won under the loving care of this favoured one of the god, comes 
originally likewise from the primeval forest of the Mahabharata. 
Further examples of the mighty love of woman will be discussed 
in the chapter on the Wife. A long lift of gods, holy men, and 
kings who loved their wives, and led a life of joy with them is 
found in v, 197.8 ff. For the Epic, too, the union between 
husband and wife is a pidlure of the tendered human union 
(e.g. xii, 319.10). See, too, especially xii, 301.37-39 (the 
separation between man and wife is one of the moft dreadful 

The woman in Old India, as throughout the world, has far 
greater gifts for love than the man, that is, taking love in its 
nobler meaning, for that feeling which fills the whole being, 
is ^eadfa^ and faithful, grows ever deeper, and is Wrongly 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

mingled with altrui^ic elements.^ But that the man, too, in 
the Epic is capable of a like feeling and of much romantic love 
is over and over again to be seen. 

Romance such as this lies already before us in the earlier 
mentioned tale of SatyavatI, the fisherman's daughter, and 
King (^antanu. For forty years he shuns women and women's 
love (ratim apnlpnuvan ^rlshu), after his dearly loved wife 
Gariga has vanished from his eyes, and when he then finds the 
gloriously beautiful, wondrous-scented fisher's maid and ferry- 
girl, his passion for her blazes up so fiercely that he at once 
woos her, and becomes quite ill and wretched because it seems 
as though he cannot get her (i, 100.20 ff.). Still finer rings the 
tale of TapatI and Sarnvarana (i, 17 1.6 ff.). 

" He that up in the sky fills the air with brightness by his 
disk, the sun god, had a daughter by name TapatI of equal 
rank with himself, the younger sifter of Savatrl, renowned 
in the three worlds, beaming, glowing. No goddess, no 
Asura woman, no Yaksha or Rakshasa woman, no Apsaras, 
no Gandharva maid was so fair. Of the right measure and 
proportions, and faultless were the limbs of the peerless one, deep- 
black and big her eyes, good were her ways and her heart, 
fair to the eye her raiment. There was none here in the three 
worlds that the awaker of life deemed worthy as a husband for 
her, in beauty, character, gifts, and renown. When now she had 
reached the bloom of youth," and he saw that he mu^ marry 
this daughter away, he could find no re^ through anxious 
thought of how to be^ow her. Now at that time the son 
of Riksha, he the ^rong bull of the Kurus, King Sarnvarana, 
sought to win the graces of the sun god. Filled with loving 
devotion, he worshipped the rising wealth of beams with gueft- 
gifts (arghya), wreaths and offerings, and so forth, and with 
sweet perfumes, his mind well held in check, pure, with vows 
and fafhing and manifold penances, obedient, free from the pride 

^ The autlior of the Kumarasambhava has rightly seen that men 
have greater gifts for rcaXfriendship : " The love of men, which towards 
beloved women is unfteadfaft, towards friends never wavers " (iv, 29). 

2 According to K, i, 187. 11 she was then 16 years old. Fifteen or 
sixteen was evidently also the age of Draupadi at her marriage (cp. 
XV, 1.6 ; 25.9 ; 29.38). 



of the self, cleansed. Then the sun god deemed the grateful 
Samvarna, learned in the law, with no peer on earth in beauty, 
a husband worthy of Tapati. Now he willed to give this maid 
as wife to Samvarana, beft of the shepherds of earth, the man of 
renowned noble blood. For as, in the sky, the beaming one cafts 
brightness abroad through his fiery glow, so on earth was 
Sarnvarana full of light. ^ And as the knowers of the holy 
knowledge worship the rising sun, so did those among creatures 
that were younger brothers of the Brahmans ^ worship 
Sarnvarana. The prince for his friends outdid the moon in 
sweetness, and for his foes outdid the sun in fiery ^rength.^ 
Since the lord of the earth had such gifts and his way of life 
was thus, so he of the glowing light resolved of himself to give 
him ' the shining one ' (Tapati). One day the glorious, 
boundlessly brave king was roving, as he hunted, through 
the mountain foreft.* While the king was busied hunting, 
his incomparable ^eed died in the mountains, overcome 
with hunger and thir^. Robbed of his horse by death, 
the prince was wandering afoot in the mountains, and then 
he saw a great-eyed maiden, without her like in the world. 
When the de^royer of the foeman's army, the lonely 
one, met the lonely maid, he, the tiger among commanders 
of men, ^ood there, gazing with unmoving eyes. For the 
ruler of men held her to be Lakshml for her loveliness, and 
then again he held her to be the shining bright one of the day- 

^ Or : through his light. 

2 That is, all the subjeds (so it could be also translated) who were 
less than the Brahmans ; for the king, too, is bound and is wishful 
to worship these latter. 

^ Although the prefix is often found, in the Epic also, separated from 
the verb, yet probably ati is hardly to be thus taken. Ati and less often 
ativa in the MBh. is used like a kind of uninflefted adjective (of course 
with an accus. depending on it) both predicatively and attributively, 
and in the meaning of" landing above, excelling ". See, for inftance, 
i, 102.32; 103.2,110.1; 124.18,132.62; 170.28; 171. 19; ii, 
11.16; 111,36.19; 163.19; 173-32; 207.99; v, 167.3 ; vi, 44.13; 
vii, 100.5; 188.43; xii, 12.6; 134.6; i, 155.34; iv, 64.32; 
68.16 ; xiii, 33.10. 

* Parvatopavana. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

^ar come down thither, like unto the sun's glowing beam in her 
wondrous splendour and dazzling light, like unto the moon's 
sickle in her friendliness and sweet softness. For on the 
mountain-ridge where she ^ood she shone and gleamed like 
a golden ^atue. Through her beauty and her garb, because of 
her extraordinary splendour, that mountain with its trees, 
bushes, and creepers was turned as though into gold.^ When the 
king had seen her, he despised the women in all the worlds, 
and believed that now only had he found profit of his eyes. All 
the loveliness that he had seen since his birth he deemed as 
below hers in rank. His heart and eye were fettered by her with 
the bonds made by her charms, and so he did not ^ir from that 
spot, and knew of nought. * Of a surety the Maker has whirled 
the whole world into being with gods, spirits, and mankind, 
and so brought the fair shape of this great-eyed one to life.' 
So then King Sarnvarana held the maiu, for the perfection of 
the treasures of her beauty, to be without compare in the world. 
And so soon as the man of glorious nobility of birth had seen 
the glorious one, he fell in his soul into anguished care, tortured 
by the arrow of the god of love. Burning with the hot fever of 
passion, the undismayed one to her dismayed, to the heart- 
entangler, said : ' Who art thou, and whose, thou lovely one with 
thighs like banana-^ems, and wherefore art thou found here .? 
And how comes it that thou roamed alone in the fore^ empty 
of mankind, thou of the bright smile ? For thou art in every 
limb without a fault ; and decked with every ornament, thou 
art as the beauty itself that is sought in these ornaments. I hold 
thee to be no goddess and no Asura woman, no Yaksha nor 
Rakshasa maid, for no snake fay, no Gandharva woman, and 
no human beauty.^ For whatever glorious women I may have 
seen or heard of, thou, to my mind, art like none of them, thou 
mazed allurer. Thou of the lovely countenance, so soon only 
as I set sight on thy face with its lotus-leaf eyes, which is more 

^ Cp. Spenser, Faerie Queene, canto iii, stanza 4 ; Swinburne, 
" Tri^ram of Lyonesse," canto vi {Poems [1904], vol. iv, p. 90) ; 
Eilhart von Oberge, 7"r/y?<2/?, ed. Lichtenftein,65 12 fF. ; Lewis Truman 
Mott, Syslem of Courtly Love, p. 124 ; Arnold in Zeitschr. d. Ver. f. 
Folks k., vol. 12, p. 166 f. 

^ Less likely : for now I set no value on (I despise) goddess, etc. 



ravishing than the moon, the ^irrer of the heart ftirred up, 
as it were, my whole heart.' Thus did the warden of the earth 
speak unto her, but she answered not a word to him that was 
tormented by love in the lonely foreft. While the prince was 
thus confused by speaking, the great-eyed one disappeared 
where she ^ood,^ like the lightning in the cloud. Seeking 
her, her with the lotus-leaf eyes, the commander of men now 
ran all over the fore^, wandering about like a madman. But 
when he found her not, the firft among princes raised much 
lament there, and ^ood a moment without birring. When 
she now was no longer to be seen, the smiter of the foeman's 
hoils, the love-ftupefied ruler of men, fell down to earth. 
When he was lying on the ground, then the sweet-smiling fair 
one with the swelling, long hips, showed herself once again to 
the prince. Then the glorious one spoke with sweet voice 
to the herdsman of the earth, the heir of the Kurus, whose soul 
was smitten by love ; with a light laugh TapatI spoke the sweet 
words : ' Rise, rise, I beg ! Thou tamer of foemen, tiger 
among princes, that ^ande^ before all eyes on earth, thou 
mu^ not come to be thus overcome in bewilderment.' Thus 
addressed with sweet speech, the ruler of the earth now saw 
the wide-hipped one landing before him. Then spoke the 
king to her of the black eyes, his soul ringed by the fire of love, 
with a voice that uttered only confused sounds : ' Come, 
thou black-eyed one, thou mazed allurer, love me that love thee 
and am tortured with yearning ; for the spirits of life are 
leaving me. Because of thee, thou great-eyed one, who shine^ 
like the cup of the lotus-flower, the god of love is ever piercing 
me with sharp arrows. Therefore, thou of the lovely face, that 
hail swelling, long hips, take me to thee ; for in helpless plight 
I am being entwined ^ by the mighty snake of desire. For on 
thee my life depends, O thou whose words sound sweet as the 
song of the Kinnaras, thou, free from fault in every limb, 
woman with countenance like unto the lotus-flower and 
the moon. For without thee, O shy one, I cannot go on living. 
The god of love is wounding me here, lotus-faced one ; there- 

^ Literally : juil there, then and there. 
2 Literally : bitten. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

fore take pity on me, thou woman with the all-powerful eyes. 
Black-eyed one, thou shalt not repulse me, who am thy servant 
in love, for, glorious one, thou shalt save me through a union 
in joy. My heart, where love has been awakened through the 
sight of thee, is deep shaken ; now that I have seen thee 
I have no wish left to see another, thou noble one. Grant me 
thy favour, I am in thy hands, love me the lover, thou glorious 
one. For since I have seen thee, thou fair-hipped woman, the 
stirrer of hearts, O big-eyed one, is piercing me sorely within 
with his arrows. The fire that has been kindled by love, O lotus- 
eye, slake it for me with the life-giving water that comes 
with the union in joy. Thou kindly, thou glorious one, bring 
the god with the flowery dart, him so hard to overcome, armed 
with cruel arrow and bow, that has awakened at the sight of 
thee, and is drawing on me with arrows beyond bearing, bring 
him to re^ by giving thyself to me. Come unto me after the 
wise of the Gandharva wedlock, thou all-excelling woman ; 
for among marriages, O banana-thighed one, the Gandharva 
marriage is held for the highe^.' TapatI spoke : ' I am not 
mistress of myself, O king, for I am a maiden that has a 
father. Doft thou harbour liking and love for me, then ask 
of my father. For as thy life-spirits have been taken and held 
by me, so by the very sight of thee have my life-spirits been borne 
headlong ^ away by thee. I am not now mi^ress of my person ; 
therefore, O beft of princes, I go not to thee ; for women are 
not free. For what maiden in all the worlds mu^ not wish for 
herself the renowned prince of the nobility as shield and tender- 
loving husband ? Therefore, as things are thus, do thou ask 
of my father, the sun god, through humble showing of honour, 
through penance, and a vow of mortification. If he will give 
me to thee, O slayer of foes, then will I ever live, O king, 
after thy wishes. I am, indeed, TapatI, the younger si^er of 
Savitri, I am the daughter of that light of the world, of the 
awaker of life, O warrior-bull.' After these words the faultless 
one swiftly rose in the air, while the king fell down on the 
ground again where he ^ood. 

The miniver who was seeking for the king, the be^ of 

^ Or : so and ftill more (liter. : more so, so ftill more). 


princes, with an army, then^ along with his following saw him 
fallen to the ground in the great foreft, like the raised banner of 
Indra.2 When the king's comrade saw the great bowman 
lying thus on the ground like an outca^, he was kindled as 
though with a fire, and he hurried towards him, seized by 
a tumult of distress owing to his tender affedion, and put 
the prince, overcome with love, the lord of earthly rulers, on his 
feet, like a father his son that has fallen. When the miniver, 
who was old in under^anding, years of life, renown, and ^ate 
wisdom, had set him up, the feverish pain left him. And he 
spoke to him that was raised with loving, sweet words : ' Fear 
not, O tiger of men ; hail to thee, thou good man ! ' He 
believed that the prince, exhausted from hunger and thir^, 

1 Kale "at the time, then, now" is often found in the Epic. So, 
e.g., i, 25.3 ; 49.3; 167.14; v, 91.16; 94.20; vi, 120.66; xii, 
31.6; xiii, 167.25, 29; Ram., iii, 16.15 ; iv, 20.8; 22.20; v, 27.9. 

2 The favourite feftival of Indra or Indra's banner is often mentioned 
in the- Epic. A very good description is given in a Jain tale which I 
have translated in my Hindu Tales (pp. 142-3) ; and MBh... i, 63.17 fF. 
describes how King Uparicara founded this joyous feftival and firft 
held it. The ^andard was set up seven days before the full moon 
of the month A^vina (Sept.-Oft.), waved day after day in all its glory 
and then on that day of the full moon was thrown down on the ground. 
Before this it had been held up by cords. K, i, 64, has intere^ing 
details, wanting in B. Because of its beautiful colours and richness 
and its sudden fall to earth it is in conftant use as a comparison in the 
Epic. See i, 163.18, 19; 70.14; 173.1,2; ii, 77-9 5 v, 59.15; 
vi, 1 19.91 ; vii, 15.29; 49.12 ; 87.6; 92.66; 94.69, 70; ix, 17.53; 
Ram., iii, 34.3; iv, 16.36,37,39; 17.2; iv, 34.3; vi, 45.17. By 
MBh., i, 63.20, I am brought back to my suggeftion expressed in Hindu 
Tales, p. 143, n. 3, that doya denotes a wooden utensil, perhaps in 
particular a wooden box or basket (pitaka). On the raising and lowering 
of the Indradhvaja see also Yajfiav., i, 147; Agnipur., 121.65 f • 5 
but above all Brihatsamhita, chap. 43, and Meyer, Altind. Rechtsschr., 
385 f (note). Yantra in MBh., vii, 94.70, however, does not mean 
" lever ". The meaning of pitaka is not made clear by Brihats., 
43-8' 4T> 5°» 57» 6r, 64,41-50. The Karm feftival among the Urauis 
probably akin. Zeitsckr.f. EthnoL, Bd. 6, p. 346 (after Dalton). Both, 
anyhow, are fertility fe^ivals, as are the well-known May-tree feftivals 
(with them cp. Tod, Rajailhan, ii, 217). See also Wright, HiSl. of 
Nepal, pp. 38, 41. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

he the de^ruftion of the foe in the fight, had fallen to the 
ground. With very cool, lotus-scented water he sprinkled 
the king's head, tearing off his diadem.^ Thereupon the life- 
spirits came back to the herdsman of men, and the mighty 
one dismissed his army, except this one counsellor. Then at 
the king's command the great army withdrew ; the king 
sat himself down again on that plateau. Then in those lordly 
mountains he ^ood there on earth, having acquired ritual purity, 
his hands folded before his forehead, and his face lifted upwards, 
to bring the sun god's favour on himself. And in his mind, 
Samvarana, the king, fled to Vasishtha, be^ of the Rishis, 
his foe-de^roying house-prie^.^ As now the herdsman of 
men was landing at one spot day and night, the Brahmanic 
Rishi came to him on the twelfth day. Since the great seer 
with the pure soul already knew that the commander of men 
had been carried away by TapatI, and had come to know this in 
super-mundane wise, the beft of the Munis, he filled with virtue, 
addressed the prince that was thus fafl: harnessed and bridled 
in his thoughts, in his yearning to carry out his business. Before 
the eyes of the ruler of men the sublime Rishi was wafted up 
towards heaven, he that was gifted with the sun's brightness, 
to pay his court to the sun god. Then the Brahman, laying 
his folded hands on his forehead, came before the thousand- 
beamed one, and announced himself, filled with joyful love, 
saying : ' I am Vasishtha.' To the besT: of Munis said the 
light-spreader : ' Great Rishi, welcome to thee ! Speak 
thy wish. Whatever thou wished from me, this thy desire, I will 
grant thee, even though it were hard to carry out.' Thus 

^ I read gsphutan (inftead of asphutan) and take it as transitive. 
Intransitive verbs are often used in the Epic as transitive (causative). 
See, e.g., i, 92.7 ; 139.26; 153.29; iii,40.l9; 192.54 ; iv, 1.25 ; 
V, 75.12 ; vii, 79.31 ; xii, 242.23 ; 269.45, 68 ; 287.1 1 ; xiii, 164.2 ; 
Ram.,' iv, 66.7; vi, 114.28. K (189.10) has the ftraightforward 
reading aspri^an : without touching (wetting) (the king's diadem). 
Akarshan would likewise be clear. Nil. says : " With the other 
reading the meaning is clear." But he does not say which. His 
interpretation does not agree with mine. 

2 In the Epic also it is one of the main tasks of the Purohita of a 
prince to bring hurt on the prince's foes by witchcraft. 



addressed by him, the seer Vasishtha answered the Hght-spreader, 
the abounding in beams, faUing down, he the mighty one in 
penance, before him : ' It is thy daughter, TapatI by name, 
the younger si^er of Savitrl, that I woo from thee for 
Sarnvarana, O thou filled with brightness. For this king has 
high renown, knows the religious and the worldly duties, and 
has a noble mind ; Sarnvarana is a fitting husband for thy 
daughter, O wanderer through the air.' Thus bespoken by 
him, the maker of day resolved : ' I will give her,' and 
answered the Brahman with joyful consent : ' Sarnvarana 
is firft among princes, and thou, O Muni, art fir^ among 
Rishis, TapatI is above all women. What else could there be, 
then, but to make grant of her ! ' Thereupon the shining one 
himself handed over the shining one (TapatI), her without fault 
in any limb, to the high-souled Vasishtha for Sarnvarana. 
Then did the great Rishi take over the maid TapatI, and, 
dismissed (by the sun god), Vasishtha now came back again 
to where that Kuru bull known to fame, the king filled with 
love's unreft, was waiting, and in mind was by her side only. 
And when he saw the maiden of the gods, the sweet-laughing 
TapatI coming to him with Vasishtha, he was lit up with 
overflowing joy. She of the lovely brows shone exceeding 
bright as she was wafted down from the sky, lighting up the 
quarters of the world with flashes like a falling flash of lightning. 
When scarcely twelve days had gone by, Vasishtha, the augu^ 
Rishi with the pure soul, came to the king.^ After Sarnvarana 
had brought the god that grants wishes, the prince of the beams, 
the lord, to be favourable to him, he won his wife only through 
the majesty of Vasishtha. Then did the bull among men take 
hold of the hand of TapatI in lawful wise on that prince 
of mountains, the resort of gods and Gandharvas. With 
Vasishtha's leave the kingly Rishi was minded to take his 
pleasure with his wife on this same mountain. Then the 
herdsmen of the earth left that minister (as his representative) 
in the city and the kingdom, in the fore^s and the groves. 

^ Or samahite taken subftantively : when the king (rajfiah) had 
firmly concentrated his thoughts ? The version given in the text is 
perhaps better for the reason that the tale in its present, not very old 
form is meant to set before our eyes the greatness of the Brahmans. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Vasishtha then took his leave of the prince, and went away. 
The king now took his dehght on that mountain, like an 
immortal. For twelve years did the king find his pleasure in 
this wise together with his wife in groves and forces on that 
mountain. In this king's city and in his kingdom he with the 
thousand eyes (Indra) did not rain in all the twelve long years. 
Then when this drought came all creatures fell to de^rud^ion, 
those that move not and those that move. While this very 
dreadful time thus prevailed, no dew came down on the earth, 
and therefore the seeds grew not. Then did mankind with minds 
bewildered, tormented by hunger and dread, leave their houses 
and wander forth to every quarter of the heavens. Then in 
this city and this kingdom folk gave up wife and possessions, 
and slew one another, released from law and order, tortured 
with hunger. So did this city with its hungry, foodless people, 
turned to (living) corpses, seem like the city of the king of the 
dead, filled with the dead.^ When the holy Rishi Vasishtha 

^ This drought and its dreadful consequences came about because 
there was no king in the land. As elsewhere in the Eaft, the prince 
according to Indian literature and particularly the MBh. is the source 
and origin of all that happens in his kingdom ; he is a blessing or a 
disafter for his land, equal to all the gods, de^iny, the ladder to heaven 
or to hell ; he makes the sun to shine, the fire to burn, rules as the 
god of wind and of the sea, is (Jiva and Vishnu ; he makes the four 
ages of the world, all power is set in him — and that by the Brahmans, 
and so forth ad infinitum. This flower of princely apotheosis had its 
roots, indeed, in the ground of reality. The king in Old India often 
made his subjefts' lives very uncomfortable, and he was often of moft 
benefit when he — slept (Cardonne, Melanges de lit. orient., 1788, 
p. 117) ; on the other hand he could do much good. Cp. Kiratarj., 
i, 17, and the precious remarks of Hopkins, India Old and New, 
p. 234. Now above all the king makes it to rain, and this not only 
through his fitness as a ruler, but through his magical presence itself; 
where there is no king the fruitful moisture does not fall. But the king 
also brings the curse of drought on his land if he is evil, while under the 
good king the gift of rain in right measure is poured on the kingdom, 
which is the beginning and end of all for India, the land of agriculture. 
On this subject see my note on p. 344 of the Da^akum., and with it 
cp. Manu, ix, 246, 247 ; Tawney, Prabandhacintamani, 70 ; Vikra- 
morv., iv, between §ix. 3 and 4 ; Jataka, i, p. 94 ; v, 193 ; Ruckert's 



saw what was happening, he with the soul of virtue, the be^ 
of the Munis came thither.^ And he had the tiger among 
princes, who had been away together with TapatI far off for 
endless years,^ brought home to this city. Then the slayer of the 
foes of the gods rained there as before. So soon as this tiger 
among princes had come into the city once more, the mighty 
one of the thousand eyes made rain to fall and so the crops to 
grow. Then did that city and the kingdom rejoice with joy 
beyond compare, raised up by this the foremo^ one of earthly 
rulers, by him that was lofty in soul. Then did the high herds- 
man of men, with his wife, make sacrifice for twelve years in 
return, as Indra with (^aci. Thus was the excelling one, 
TapatI by name, the sun god's daughter, thy forbear,^ O 
Arjuna, because of whom I declare thee for a child of TapatI. 
By her King Sarnvarana begot Kuru." 

poem : " Der Fiirft ritt auf die Jagd " in his Weisheit des Brah?nanen ; 
Bulloram Mullick, Home Life in Bengal, p. 24 f. ; Temple, Legends 
of the Panjab, i, 264; Ward, Viezv of the Hindoos^, 273; Divyavad., 
p. 435 (cp. Jat. Nos. 334, 520); Cardonne, Melanges, p. 89 fF. ; 
Crooke, North-Weflern Provinces of India, p. 170; etc. From the 
MBh. some of the passages are : i, 64.15, 16 ; 68, especially 10 
105.44; 109. 1 fF. ; ii, 13.14 fF.; 33.1 fF. ; 38.27-29; iii, 185 
207.28 ff; iv, 28.15 fF. ; 132.15 fF. ; v, 147.25 fF. ; xii, 29.51 fF. 
69.75 ff. ; 91.9; 141.9,10; 223.5 ff- ; ^i"» 62.43 f- The Old 
Indian king, too, does not know better : In the kingdom of the 
Kalingas there is a heavy drought; everything is ruined. The 
people make complaint to the ruler, who then says : " I will make 
the god rain," and gives himself up to good works. But as this is no 
good, King Vessantara's ^ate-elephant is asked for ; where it comes, 
there it rains (Jat., vi, p. 487). — To tat we can add puram. Or the 
liter, transl. might be : Hence it became (or : It became) in this 
way like the city filled with gho^s, etc. 

^ Read abhyavartata inftead of abhavarshata. In itself the text, 
indeed, might be quite right as a senseless insertion for glorifying the 
Brahmans. But if we are not to rejeft the whole ^loka, which indeed is 
not altogether unsuspeft, then this amendment offers itself quite 
naturally, and is moreover supported by K, where abhyadravata is 

^ That is, of course : an endlessly long time. 

3 It is to him that the tale, told by a Gandharva, is addressed. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Still more splendidly than here does the man's love for his 
chosen one shine in the legend of Ruru (i, 8.5 ff.) : " There 
was once a great Rishi, endowed with asceticism and knowledge, 
famed under the name of Sthulake^a, gladly given up to the 
welfare of all beings. Now at this very time the king of the 
Gandharvas, named Vi^vavasu, begot offspring with Menaka. 
The Apsaras Menaka exposed this child near by the hermitage 
of Sthulake9a, when her time had come. And having left 
the child on the river-bank, she went away, she the Apsaras 
Menaka, ruthless and without shame. This girl like a child 
of the gods, blazing, as it were, with the splendour of beauty, 
that was exposed on the river-bank, and in the unpeopled wilder- 
ness bereft of her kindred, was seen by the great Rishi, the 
majeislic Sthulake9a. Now when the great Brahman 
Sthulake^a had seen this maiden, the be^ among Munis, filled 
with pity, took her and brought her up. And she with the lovely 
hips grew up in his holy and glorious hermitage. The religious 
rites — the birth ceremony, and so forth — were carried out over 
her by the very great Rishi Sthulake^a, the famous one, 
according to precept and in order. But she was the mo^ 
excellent of women (pramadabhyo vara), gifted with loveliness 
of charadler and form, wherefore the great and holy man gave 
her the name Pramadvara. This Pramadvara was seen in the 
penitential grove by (the scion of Bhrigu) Ruru, and he with the 
soul of right and virtue was at once flruck down by love. 
Through his friends he then sent word of it to his father, the 
Bhrigu scion Pramati, and the father asked for her hand from 
the high and glorious Sthulake(;a. Thereupon her father gave 
the maiden Pramadvara to Ruru, fixing the wedding beforehand 
for the time of the constellation that has Bhaga for god.^ A 
few days later, when the wedding was ju^ nigh, this lovely- 
faced maiden was playing with her girl-friends, and did not see 
a snake fa^ asleep and Wretched right across (the path). She 
trod with her foot on the bea^, since she was doomed to death 
and driven on by fate. The snake, goaded on by the god of death, 
Struck with its poison-smeared fangs deep into the heedless 

1 Uttaraphalguni is meant. This is a lucky time for weddings 
often mentioned in the Epic also. Bhagadaivata also means " giving 
happiness in marriage" (e.g. iii, 233.8 ; 234.12). 



girl's body. Bitten by this snake, she fell suddenly to the ground, 
robbed of all colour and of her splendour, as her charms and 
consciousness fled from her. Taking all joy from her kindred, 
her hair unbound, abandoned by life — so was she, that was 
mo^ worthy of beholding, taken from their sight. ^ And it 
was as though she, slain by the snake's poison, had gone to sleep 
on the ground ; the slender one was far more fascinating 
^ill to the heart. And her father and the other penitents saw 
her in her lotus-like glory fall quivering on the ground. Then 
came all the excellent Brahmans, filled with pity : 
Sva^yatreya, Mahajanu, Ku^ika, (^aiikhamekhala, Uddalaka, 
and Katha, and ^veta, the greatly renowned, Bharadvaja, 
Kaunakutsya, Arshtishena ; then Gautama, Pramati with his 
son, as also other foreft-dwellers. When they saw the lifeless 
maiden, slain by the poison of the snake, they wept for the pity 
that was in them ; but Ruru went forth tormented by suffering. 
And all those excellent Brahmans sat themselves down at that 
very spot. 

While those lofty-minded Brahmans were sitting there, 
Ruru went into the depths of the fore^, and wailed aloud, filled 
with the greateil sorrow. Sore wounded, he poured out his woe 
in manifold heart-moving ways, and in his pain and in his 
memory of the beloved Pramadvara he spoke the words : 
* She is lying on the ground, the slender one, that makes my 
cares to grow, and those of all her kindred. What unhappiness 
could be greater ! If I have given charitable gifts, if I have 
praftised asceticism, if I have won the goodwill of worshipful 
men, then my beloved one shall thereby come to life again. 
And as surely as from my birth I have held myself in check, 
and kept a pious troth towards the law, so surely shall 
Pramadvara here, the shining one, arise again.' While the 
sorrowing one in this wise was bitterly bewailing his wife, 
there came a messenger of the gods and spoke to Ruru in the 
foreft : ' It is useless for thee, O Ruru, to be speaking words 
in thy sorrow ; for for the mortal whose life is run there is no 
life left, O thou with virtuous soul. The life of this poor 
daughter of the Gandharva and the Apsaras has run out ; 

^ aprekshaniya. Lit. not visible, that is, gone over into the other 
world, dead. 

L 289 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

therefore, my friend, do not give thine heart up at all to sorrow. 
But there is a remedy for it that has been already laid down by 
the lofty-minded gods ; if thou art willing to make use of it, 
thou shalt receive Pramadvara again here on earth.' Ruru 
spoke : ' What is the remedy laid down by the gods ? Speak 
according to the truth, O wanderer through the air ! I will 
do in accordance with it so soon as I have heard. O do thou 
save me ! ' The messenger of the gods spoke : ' Make over, 
O child of Bhrigu, the half of thy life to the maiden. Thus, 
O Ruru, will thy wife Pramadvara rise up again.' Ruru spoke : 
' I will make over half my life to the maiden, O be^ of the 
air-rangers. Dight with love and beauty,^ my beloved shall 
rise again.' Then the king of the Gandharvas and the 
messenger of the gods,- the two excellent ones, went to the 
king of righteousness and death and to him spoke these 
words : ' O king of righteousness, let his wife that is dead 
arise once again for the half of Ruru' slife, if so thou deemed.' ^ 
The king of righteousness spoke : ' If thou art asking for 
Pramadvara, Ruru's wife, O messenger of the gods, then shall 
she, endowed with the half of Ruru's life, arise again.' So 
soon as he had thus spoken, the maid Pramadvara by virtue of 
the half of Ruru's life arose again, as though she of the lovely 
face had only slept. For it was this that was written in the 
future for this Ruru, endowed with surpassing splendour, that 
from him the half of his life should be cut off on behalf of his 
wife, when he should be far gone in years.* Then did the parents 
on the wished for day hold with glad hearts the wedding of the 
two, and the two lovers took their joy, each wishing all that was 
be^ for the other." But thenceforward Ruru was a bitter foe 
of snakes, as is told in what follows, and to this hatred he also 
owes his immortalizing in the Mahabharata.* 

1 Or : in feftal garb, beauty, and adornment (?ringararupabharana). 

2 So according to K (9-19) : devaduta?. The Bomb. ed. has 
Devadatta?, which then mu^ be the name of the gods' messenger. 
But it is probably a miftake. 

3 Less likely : that is thus dead ... if thou deemed. 
* Or : the half of the much-grown length of life. 

^ The tale itself is also to be found in a bare shortened form in 
Kathas. Tar., xiv, 76 ff. Cp. Mark.-Pur., xxii-xxv ; Hemavija's 



The love romance of the RakshasI woman Hidimba is also 
very beautiful, to whom the whole-hearted energy of purpose 
in following the ways of her heart is more becoming than to 
many a one among her numerous Eastern sixers skilled in the 
campaigns of love. And with it all there is a pretty touch of 
adventurous humour running through this tale of a giant, which 
reminds us of the giant-tales of We^ern, especially German, 

The five Pandavas had escaped with their mother out of the 
burning house of resin, and were wandering through the fore^. 
Bhima the strong had at la^ carried all the wearied ones away, 
and was now watching over them as they lay asleep. Then 
a man-eating monfter (Rakshasa), dwelling near by, Hidimba 
by name, climbed a ^ala-tree, and looked about him for prey. 
Black he was as the rain-cloud, red-eyed, with bridling tusks 
and hanging belly, red bubbly beard and hair, out-handing 
ears, and a neck and trunk like some mighty tree ; huge were 
his jaws, every feature was hideous and frightful. He scratched 
his shaggy hair, opened his jaws in a gaping yawn, and kept on 
looking all round, tormented by hunger and thir^. When he 
smelt human flesh he was greatly rejoiced, and called to his 
si^er Hidimba : " At la^ I have now found my much-loved 
food ; my mouth is watering. Happiness is clasping me.^ 
My eight sharp-tipped tusks, whose thru^ none can with^and, 
I will at length bury in the bodies and the tender flesh. I will 
leap on to a human neck, tear the veins open and drink my 
fill of the warm, fresh, foaming blood. Go ; find out who is 
lying there in the fore^. The ^rong human smell seems to 
refresh my nose. Kill all these persons, and bring them to me 

Katharatnakara, io6th and 183rd tales; Fr. v. d. Leyen, Ind. 
Mdrchen, 136 ff. ; Herrigs Archiv, 11, p. 453 ; Keller's "Altdeutche 
Erzahlungen " in Stuttg. Lit. Verein., Bd. 35, p. 372 ; Meyer, Isoldes 
Gottesurteil (Berl. 1914), p. 182, and with this Chavannes, Cinq cents 
contes, No. 12 ; Schiefner, " Ind. Erzahlungen," No. xvii {Bull. d. 
Petersburg. Akad., Bd. xxiii, col. 29 ff.); Grimm's Mdrchen, No. 16 ; 

^ Snehasravat prasravati (printed prasavati) jihva, paryeti me 
sukham. K has : Jighratah prasruta snehaj jihva paryeti me sukham. 
In B one expefts ma rather than me. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

here. As they are sleeping in our domain, thou ha^ nought 
to fear from them. When we have eaten to our heart's desire 
of the men's flesh, we will both of us dance many dances 
together in time." Hidimba went quickly oflr ; but when she 
saw the mighty Bhimasena watching over the sleepers, and 
towering up like a young q:ala-tree, she fell in love with him, 
the one without compare in form on earth. " This dark, 
^rong-armed, lion-breamed, lotus-eyed one would be a fitting 
mate for me. I could never carry out my brother's cruel order. 
The love for a husband is mighty beyond all, not so is the 
friendship for a brother. Were my brother to slay them, he 
would be sated but for a moment. If they live, then I have 
gladness for years unending." As she could change her shape 
at will, she put on that of a glorious human being, and softly 
drew nigh the long-armed Bhimasena. As though shy, playfully, 
dight with divine ornament, she spoke these words, as she 
smiled, to Bhimasena : " Whence ha^ thou come, and who 
art thou ? And who are these that are sleeping here ? Here 
dwells the evil-minded Rakshasa called Hidimba. He has sent 
me, and means to eat you. But now that I have beheld thee, 
that shine^ like a child of the gods, there is none other whom 
I will have as a husband. Do thou love me who love, whose 
soul and body are wounded by passion. I will save thee from the 
man-eater, and we will live together in the mountain wilds." 
But Bhimasena said that he could not leave his kindred to be 
eaten by the Rakshasa, and go off like one love-sick. She made 
answer : " Wake them, I will save them from the monger." ^ 
" How should I wake them that sleep so calmly .? What could 
a Rakshasa like this do to me ? Go or ^ay, my dear, or do 
whatever thou wished. Or send thy man-eating brother here." 
She drew a pidture of the dreadfulness of the Rakshasa, and 
offered herself to carry them all away through the air on her 
hip. Bhima once more made boaft : " I will slay him before 
thine eyes. The wretched Rakshasa is no match for me. See 
these round arms of mine, like elephants' trunks, my thighs 

^ According to K, which as so often happens elsewhere, has many 
additions in this place, Bhima points out that he mu^ not marry before 
his elder brother, and she answers (164.45) • " ^ ^^^ ®^^^ ^^^^ °"^7 
and with thy mother. Leave thy brothers here,and mount my jaghana." 



like clubs, and my mighty firm che^. Now thou wilt behold 
my hero's ^rength, that is like Indra's. Do not belittle me, 
thou broad-hipped one, by thinking I here am only a man." 
" I do not think little of thee, thou with the godlike form. 
But I have seen what the Rakshasa can do to men." The giant 
heard his voice and ran there angrily. When he beheld his 
sifter thus in fair human shape, wearing thin garb, with a 
wreath of flowers in her hair, and all decked, he opened wide 
his eyes, and bitterly reproached her for being so bent on man- 
hunting, putting a hindrance in his way through her blindness, 
and being willing to bring shame upon the Rakshasa princes. 
But as he raged on with gnashing teeth, Bhima laughingly 
said to him : " Why should^l thou awake these quiet sleepers ? 
Set on me quickly, thou fool. Come, beat me ! Thou shalt 
not kill a woman, especially when she has done thee no hurt, 
but another. This maid has no power over herself : she loves 
me now, she is driven on by the god of love, who has his being 
within the body. Not again^ thee has she sinned. It is love that 
did the crime ; do not upbraid this woman here. When I 
am there, thou shalt not slay a woman. In a moment I will 
crush thy head." Then the Rakshasa uttered wild threats, 
and fell on Bhima. But Bhima laid hold of the arm he Wretched 
out, and fir^ of all dragged the struggling Rakshasa a long way 
off, that the sleepers might not hear the noise of the fight. A 
fierce druggie now was fought between the two ; like two 
ruttingelephantsofsixty years ^ they broke down trees, carrying 
away creepers with them. Kunti and her sons were awakened 
by it, 'and she asked the wonderful apparition standing before 
her who she was. Hidimba told her how things ^ood, and 
declared to her that, driven by the love that has its abode in the 
hearts of all beings, she had chosen the other's son for her 
husband. Arjuna shouted to Bhima that he would help him, 
and bring the monger down. But Bhima answered : " Look 
thou on as one beholding only, and be not birred. One that 

^ The sixty year old elephant as a type of huge ftrength is often 
found in the Epic. So i, 15 1.4; 153.44; ii, 53-7; iv, 13.24; 
31.31 ; vii, 28.20; Ram., ii, 67.20; vii, 23.45. ^P- Ci9upalav., 
xviii, 6, and Mallinatha, on the passage, where the forty year old is at 
the height of his ftrength. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

has once fallen between my arms ^ays not in this life." The 
brother bade him aft quickly, before the eaft should redden, 
for by twilight, he said, the Rakshasas are ftrong.^ Bhimasena 
whirled the giant around a hundred times in the air, dashed 
him onto the ground, and broke him in twain at his middle, 
so that he met his end with a dreadful roaring. Then the 
brothers went quickly on, and Hidimba followed them. Bhima 
wanted to send her after her brother, fearing her vengeance 
and craft, but Yudhishthira prevailed on him not to murder 
a woman, and Hidimba turned humbly to Kunti : " Noble 
lady, thou knowe^ the sorrow that comes on women through 
love. It has come on me, and the cause is BhIma. I have borne 
the utmo^ pain while awaiting the right moment. This has 
now come, and mufi: be for my happiness. Friends, my duty 
and my folk I have left, and chosen the tiger among men^ thy 
son, for my husband. If I am repelled by this hero and by thee, 
I cannot go on living. Therefore have pity on me, thou of the 
lovely face, thinking of me : ' She is blinded,' or ' given up 
to love ', or ' has followed him ' ". She promised the fugitives 
every kind of help, and pointed out that on the general view 
life muft be preserved in any way whatever that is possible and 
that unhappiness is harmful to virtue ^ ; but that he who like 
herself keeps virtue unharmed amid unhappiness, and preserves 
his life in holy wise is worthy of all praise. At Yudhishthira's 
bidding she was then wedded to Bhima but on the condition 
that she should only take her pleasure with him by day and 
always bring him back again at night ; and Bhima added he 
would only ^ay with her until she had borne a son. She was 
content with all, and now the two lived the happie^ days in 
a great variety of splendid places, even in the forefls of the gods ; 

^ The Rakshasas and other evil spirits are especially powerful 
by night, particularly at midnight, but also by twilight. See, e.g., 
170.8 fF., 69 ; iii, 11.33 ; vii, I 56.69 ; 173.57; Ram., i, 26.22, 23. 

^ Also hunger deftroys virtue and, as the old Upanishad so clearly 
teaches, knowledge and wisdom (iii, 260.24; ix, 51.36 ff. ; xiv, 
90.90,91; cp. v, 33.101 f. ; xiii, 93.66 f.). Therefore, according to 
an old verse, the draught-ox, the sacrifice in fire, and the scholar muft 
eat heartily. Apaft., ii, 5, 9.13 ; Vashishtha, vi, 21 ; Baudh., ii, 
7,13.7-8; ii, 10, 18.13 ; ^ankh.-Grihyas., ii, 16.5 ; K, 1,85.21. 



for the beloved one, appearing in bewitching form, took the 
hero everywhere. But then she bore a son, and direftly after 
she had fir^ conceived, as is the way of Rakshasa women. 
And since the ^ipulated time was now run, she took farewell 
of Bhimasena without a murmur, and went (i, 152 ff.}.^ 

Among the mo^ beautiful passages in Indian literature 
are perhaps Rama's love-plaints for Sita robbed by Ravana, 
only we muil thru^ our We^ern feelings somewhat aside, 
and not find this delicate, somewhat feminine soul of a hero 

The beloved one is not to be seen near the leaf-hut in the 
fore^, and he cries out that without her he cannot live, nor has 
any wish for lordship over the gods or the earth. And how 
the poor timid one will pine without him ! The hut itself is 
empty ; like a madman, with eyes reddened by weeping, 
he runs about the fore^, seeking her that is lo^ ; from tree 
he wanders to tree, through the mountains, over rivers ; he 
asks all the trees in moving speech, the bea^s of the foreft, 
whether they have seen the much loved, the wondrous-fair 
one ; and in great horror he pidlures to himself how the 
mongers have eaten her, have swallowed her bewitching 
limbs. And then again he cannot bring himself to believe 
that she could really have been taken from him ; he calls out 
to her that she mu^ now put an end to her play, as he is thus 
suffering ; she muft come forth from her hiding-place ; he can 
see her yellow silk robe. He lets himself be persuaded by 
Lakshmana that she has gone to pick flowers ; that she, who 
so loves the fore^, has gone wandering away in it, and will 
surely spring suddenly out to frighten him. And once more 
he searches all about with his brother, but finds her not, who 
to him " is dearer than his own life ". Then he breaks forth 
wailing once more ; again he believes she is only hiding 

1 Riickert has translated this piece from the MBh. in a very much 
shortened and not altogether successful form : " Hidimba. Eine brah- 
manische Erzahlung," Gesammeltepoet. Werke, Bd. xii (Frankf. a. M., 
1882). It is given in a short form in MBh., iii, 12.94 ff. According to 
Samayamatrika, ii, 22, Bhima had deeply loved Hidimba. As we are 
told in K, i, 1 60.4 ff. she lived seven months with him before she 
became with child. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

herself, and he calls out as before that he can see her, that 
the je^ has gone on long enough. And as she ^ill does not 
come, he is certain she m\i£i be dead, for how could she, she 
of all, otherwise leave him without consolation. He never 
wishes to go back to the city again ; how can he go to meet 
his kindred without Sita ? " And without her heaven itself 
would feel empty for me." 

" There is no other on earth, methinks, that so 
much evil in his former being has done as I ; 
for on me now there falls in one long chain 
but sorrow after sorrow, my heart and soul it crushes. 

My kingdom loft, the farewell from my folk, 
my father's death, the parting from my mother — 
when I ponder on all this within me, 
then the wild waves of my sorrow are swollen. 

But all the sorrow died in me, O Lakshman, 
when I went forth into the foreft, into want : 
I had Sita ! Now it rises again 
like fire, set swiftly blazing by the logs. 

She so noble, so timid, by the monfter 
robbed, and snatched up into the air, 
she that else speaks in sweet notes — how muft 
she have uttered sharp cry on cry of fear ! 

Her face, whose lips so tenderly have spoken, 

and girt by a wealth of locks — 

it shone surely in the Raksha's claws 

like the bright moon in Rahu's maw. 

With blood are flecked her rounded breads, 
that ever knew but beft of sandal-wood, 
red, lovely sandal. O sure it is : 
never shall I clasp my deareft one to me. 

By me forsaken in the lonely foreft, 
ringed round and hurried away by the Rakshas, 
the woman with great, lovely eyes has in sorrow 
mourned like the hen-osprey. 

On this rock sat with me 

once Sita of the glorious life. 

How sweetly did she smile and laugh, O Lakshman, 

and as she prattled, to thee said this and that. 



She might have gone into that foreil 

of blooming, close-set trees of many kinds, 

and filled with flocks of birds. — But that too cannot be. 

Left thus alone, the timid one is too afraid. 

What here is done, what not, thou, O sun, knowe^ it, 
witness to the works of truth and falsehood. 
Whither then went my darling ? Did a robber take her ? 
Tell me of all, who am the mark of sorrow. 

Nothing, nothing is in the universe to find, 
whereof, O wind, thou should^ no knowledge have. 
Tell of her that is the treasure of her house : 
is she dead ? carried off ? ftill on the way ? " 

Again he goes on looking and looking ; the river Godavarl 
gives no answer to the anguished que^ioner, the mountain 
tells him nought ; but the bea^s of the fore^ let him under- 
hand that he mu^ go southwards, and there he finds traces : 
flowers that have dropped from the ravished one, wreaths, 
bits of ornament, other signs of the Rakshasa ; his anger 
blazes forth ; he is going to dcblroy the whole world. Then 
the prince of the apes, Sugrlva, brings him the upper garment 
and ornaments of Slta. Weeping loud he falls to the ground 
and presses to his heart these ornaments and garment which 
have felt the glow of her body. His thoughts henceforth 
are only for his beloved ; particularly when he sees the moon 
rise, do his tears well up, and sleep comes not to his bed. He 
eats but at every fifth meal ; flies, gnats, and other vermin 
he does not keep away from himself ; he does not mark it at all, 
since his soul is busied but with Slta ; " Slta, Slta ! " is the only 
sound on his lips. As an earthquake rocks the mighty 
mountain, so is he thrown this way and that by his sorrow. 
When Hanumant brings him a token from her, who is ^ill 
pining in the captivity of the man-eating mongers, the token of 
a precious ^one, then he calls out with tear-filled eyes : " As 
her milk flows from the tender cow for love of her calf, so 
does my heart flow at the sight of this beft of jewels. Yes, for 
me it is as though I had my darling once again. But what 
could there be more harrowing than this, that the ^one born 
of the sea comes to me again, but without her of the black 
eyes ? " She can only live, he says, a short time longer without 

L« 297 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

him, and amid the cruel wretches. And now he overwhelms 
the messenger with questions about her welfare, and wants to 
know every word she has uttered ; for that, he says, will give 
him life, like medicine to the sick man. At la^ the army is 
camped on the sea-shore over again^ Larika, the city of the 
Rakshasas, where Sita is being held a prisoner ; and Rama 
breaks out into the words : " They say that sorrow dies with 
time ; but in me, who do not see my beloved, it waxes day 
by day. 

Blow, O wind, where my beloved tarries, 

touch her firft, and then me, too. 

In thee our bodies touch one another, 

in the moon our glances are united.^ 

I dive into the waters of the sea 
and sleep deep alone ; 
there love's torments burn not 
the sleeper with glowing fire. 

This it is that for the lover means much, and it is through this 
that he can live — that I and she of the lovely thighs are on one 
Wretch of land. When shall I tilt lightly upwards her lotus- 
like face, lit by its lovely teeth, and drink, as the sick man 
drinks the draught of life ? When will the quivering breafts 
of the laughing one, pressing againft one another, swelling, 
like unto the wine-palm's fruit, when will they but clasp me .? 
Alas I the black-eyed one who has me to shelter her, can find 
no rescuer, like one that is shelterless. When at la^ will 
Sita, the kind, she like a daughter of the gods, twine herself 
round my neck, filled with longing, and shed tears of joy ? 
When shall I of a sudden ca^ off this dreadful pain, that 
comes of my separation from Sita, like a sullied garment ? " 
(Ram., iii, 58, 60-64 5 iv, 6.11 ff. ; 27.30 ff. ; v, 35.38 ff. ; 
36.40 ff. ; 66. 1 ff.). 

Bhimasena, by far the mo^ humanly attractive of the five 
brothers, shows, too, in his relation towards DraupadI, his 
deeper and passion-filled soul. " In this hermitary 
dwelt the tigers among men (the Pandavas robbed of Arjuna) 
for six days, earned in the loftie^ Parity, and filled with 

^ Because they both look, parted from one another, into the moon. 
This is again^ the mi^aken interpretation of Nilakantha (vi, 5.6). 



longing to see Arjuna again. Then the wind wafted out of 
the north-ea^ happened to bring there a divine lotus-flower, 
like unto the sun. This wind-wafted, pure, water-borne 
thing, heavenly-scented, gladdening the heart, was seen lying on 
the ground by the princess of Pancala (Draupadi). When 
the shining one had found this shining thing, the surpassing 
lotus-flower,^ she was right glad, and spoke to Bhimasena : 
' Look, Bhima, at the heavenly, brightly shining flower 
without compare, perfedl: in scent and shape, a delight for my 
heart ! . . . If I am dear to thee, O son of Pritha, then get me 
many like it ; I will take them with me back again into the 
hermitary Kamyaka.' When she with the lovely eyes, she 
free from any fault, had thus spoken to Bhimasena, she went 
and took away the flower for Yudhishthira.- At once when 
the bull among men, Bhlma, the powerful strong one, had 
learned the wishes of his beloved wife, he went off filled with 
the yearning to do something after her heart. Facing the 
wind, he strode swiftly along towards whence this flower 
had come, wishing to bring more flowers, and grasping his 
gold-backed bow and the snake-like arrows, like the angry 
king of bea^s, like a rutting elephant. All beings saw the 
bearer of the arrows and the mighty bow. Neither weariness 
nor weakness, neither fear nor bewilderment ever befell the 
child of Pritha, the son of the wind. Striving after that 
which was dear to Draupadi, tru^ing in the ^rength of his 
arms, shunned by anxiety or numbness of senses, the ^rong 
one flew along on the mountain. The de^royer of foes 
ranged the glorious mountain-top, clothed in trees, creepers, 
and bushes, paved with dark ^ones, the wandering-ground 
of Kinnaras ; it showed bright, with many-coloured minerals, 
trees, bea^s, and birds, and was filled with every beauty, 
and raised up like an arm of the earth. While his eye clung 
always to the ravishing ridges of the Gandhamadana, 
and he was pondering his purpose in his heart, and his ear, 

^ Saugandhika in this meaning is often found in the Epic. So iii, 
146.2, and over and over again afterwards ; 152.13; 153.6; 154.2; 
155.13; Ram., iii, 75.20; iv, 1.63. 

2 In the doublet of this tale in K, iii, 161 (= B, 160) Draupadi 
says to Bhima she will be his in love, when she has had these flowers. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

heart, and eye were held captive by the notes of the male 
kokila-bird, and the working of the bees/ he went Priding along 
in his unbounded heroic ^rength. Scenting the perfume 
wafted up from the flowers that bloom at all seasons of 
the year, unfettered in the fore^ as a rutting elephant, fanned 
by the wind from Gandhamadana,^ very pure, filled with 
sweet scent from various flowers, cooled through having 
touched its father, he freed from weariness by his father,^ his 
body clothed with fine hair ruffled with joy — thus did the 
so mighty queller of foes search the mountain, haunt of Yakshas, 
Gandharvas, gods, and Brahmarshi-bands, to find the flower. 
This mountain was wrapped in the headlong waters of the 
waterfalls as in threaded pearls, filled with the splendid peacocks 
brought to dance by the sounds of the anklets of the Apsarases, 
and the robe seemed to be gliding down from it in the form 
of the hurrying ^ waters breaming from the rivers. With 
young torn-up grass in their mouths, calm, keeping near him, 
unknown to fear, the gazelles gazed at him ; in his headlong 
career he set the tangle of creepers quivering in great clumps, 
he sported with merry heart, and so the son of the wind went 
along, he of the beautiful eyes, eagerly bent on fulfilling his 
loved one's wish, tall, in golden splendour, the youth with 
the ^out limbs of the lion, with a hero's might like a rutting 
elephant, headlong as a rutting elephant. Representing,^ 
as it were, a new Avatara of beauty, thinking of the various 
miseries caused by Duryodhana, full of eagerness to do some- 
thing pleasing for Draupadi living in the fore^ wilds, filled 
with the thought : ' How can I very speedily get the flowers ? ' 
— so did he range along the glorious ridge of Gandhamadana. 

^ Or : by the (mountain-ridge) filled with the kokila's song, haunted 
by the bees. 

2 The wind is cool since it comes from the scented forces (sandal- 
wood groves) and lotus-clumps of Gandhamadana. By " father " 
this place of origin is meant here. 

^ That is, the wind, who is Bhima's begetter. 

* Akshobhya (has this meaning once or twice). I have considerably 
shortened down the description, too. 

* With vikridati, to play, that is, represent (by playing), cp. vikri- 
date panyam, to trade (iii, 188.53). 



Draupadl's word was his journey's food ; swiftly ran Bhima, 
like the ^orm-wind at the time of the Parvan days,^ and the 
ground shook under his feet. The herds of elephants were 
terrified by him, swift as the wind ; lions, tigers, and antelopes 
were trodden down by the ^rong one ; great trees were 
uprooted and dashed to pieces by the mighty one in his headlong 
course ; creepers and climbing plants he tore off along with 
him in his wild career ; loud he roared like the lightning- 
riven cloud. At this loud din raised by Bhima the tigers 
woke, and left their lairs, the fore^-dwellers were filled with 
fear, the birds flew up in terror, and the herds of gazelles fled. 
Many elephants, tigers, and suchlike bea^s fled, others attacked 
him with loud and angry roars. Then in his rage the son of 
the wind with the ^rength of his arm with one elephant 
put the others to flight, with the lion he put the lions to flight, 
other bea^s with his open hand. Waterfowl terrified by the 
din flew up in thousands with wet wings, and when the Bharata 
bull followed after them he saw a very great and pleasant 
pond with birring waters,^ fanned by golden clumps of banana- 
trees waving in the wind, and ^retching from one bank to 
the other. Into this pond, ftudded with many day-lotuses 
and blue lotuses, the strong one climbed down, and played in 
it, full of wild ^rength like a frolicsome elephant. When he 
went on his way again, the ^rong Bhima winded his war shell- 
trumpet with all his might and with a loud note, and beat on his 
arms, so that the lands of the world resounded. With the notes 
of the shell and Bhimasena's shouts, and the mighty cracks 
of his arms, the caves of the mountain seemed to resound. 
When the lions asleep in the mountain-caves heard this great 
cracking of his arms as he hit them, like the fall of the thunder- 
bolt, they uttered loud roars. And then the elephants, 
frightened by the roaring of the lions, Parted a mighty 
trumpeting, which filled the mountain." 

After a truly Indian adventure with his half-brother, 
Hanumant,he went on his way again to search "with Draupadl's 
word as food for his way ", and at length beheld a mighty 
river, and in it a grove of those particular lotus-flowers that his 

^ Probably at the time of the equinox. 
^ Akshobhya. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

wife yearned after, shining like the newly risen sun. " When 
he had seen it, he felt in his lieart that he was at the goal of 
his wishes, and in his thoughts he ha^ened to his beloved, 
sore worn as she was by her life in the foreft." Near here, 
too, was the wondrous-fair lotus-pond of Kubera the god of 
wealth, whence that flower had come ; and this pond was 
covered by those rare golden lotus-flowers, reeling on ftalks 
of cat's-eye ^ones. They sent forth the sweeteA scent, and, 
whirled up by the waterfowl, their pollen flew through the air. 
The bold hero now at once drank of the water, and wanted to 
take the flowers ; the watching spirits, however, angrily topped 
him, and demanded that he should fir^ ask the owner, Kubera, 
as did even gods and holy men. But he told them proudly 
that he was the Pandava Bhimasena, and had come at the 
sweet bidding of his wife. " Kings do not beg, that is the 
everla^ing law. And I can in no wise set the cu^om of the 
Kshattriyas behind me. And this lovely lotus-clump grew 
up by the waterfall in the mountain ; it belongs to all beings 
as much as to Kubera." They came to blows, but Bhima 
with his huge club overcame his attackers, and put them to 
flight ; he drank his fill of the nedlar-like water, and plucked 
of the wonderful lotus-blooms to his heart's desire. Kubera, 
who was at once told of the matter, laughed and was content 
withal (iii, 146 flr.). 

If we are reminded by this haughty ftrong man, fighting 
in the service of his lady-love again^ giants and spirits, and 
fetching her the golden flower, of a lover from knighthood's 
days, so he, too, shows knightly feelings towards Draupadl. 
It is he only of the brothers that is aroused by the shame put 
on the proud princess of Paficala by that disa^rous game of 
dice, and so deeply aroused that he angrily reproaches his 
elde^ brother, when this brother has played away his wife. 
That Yudhishthira has wagered and loft all their possessions, 
and then the four brothers themselves, he is quite willing to 
forgive ; for he is their lord. " This it is I hold for a sin, 
that Draupadl was made a ^ake ; for this youthful woman, 
who has been given the Pandavas, is through thy fault tormented 
by the low, cruel, rough Kauravas. Gambling ruffians have 
evil wives in their homes, O Yudhishthira, but for them they 



do not play ; for they feel a loving sympathy even for them." 
And since he cannot pour his anger out on the hallowed head 
of his elde^ brother, he is minded to burn his own arms in the 
fire, before Yudhishthira's eyes — a truly Indian way of revenge 
and branding (ii, 68.1 ff.).i In full sight of the brothers 
Duh^asana drags the but partly clad woman into the hall 
before all the men, and tears her clothing off her ; but Bhima 
blazes up, and with quivering lips and hand pressed again^ 
hand swears for this to drink the blood from the shameless 
man's brea^ (ii, 68.50 ff.). And when Duryodhana shows 
her his bare thigh, flames of fire come out of every opening 
in the body of the giant Bhima mighty in anger, as from the 
hollows of a burning tree,^ and he swears by all his 
bliss to shatter with his club, in the fight, the insolent 
one's thigh (ii, 71.13 ff.). And both these dread deeds 
he carries out afterwards.^ But he can never forget what 
has been done to Draupadi, and his soul is filled with pity 
for her that she mu^ bear so heavy a burden (cp. too iii, 
312.2 ; vii, 79.4; xi, 15.6-9 ; xii, 16.18, 21, 28 ; xv, 1 1. 21 ; 
etc.). Afterwards all her sons fall at the hand of the foe, 
and in her agony she falls to the ground. Bhima clasps her 
in his arms, lifts her up, and utters consoling, loving words 

1 Cp. the praya (prayopave9a, dharna) and Billington, 248 ff. 
Devendra Das, Sketches of Hindoo Life, 180 f. Tod, RajaUkan, i, 
740—2 ; ii, 182—3 5 674-7 (here the Bhats are discussed, who are 
related to the Kshattriyas,andprobably descend from them); Devendra 
Das, 205 (fakirs light a fire and threaten to burn their arms, if their 
wish is not fulfilled); and so forth. Cp.Crooke, Popul. Relig. and Folkl. 
etc.^, p. 122; Jolly, Sitzungsier. d. bayr. Akad., \%TI , p. 316; 
Zachariae in Zeitschr. d. Ver. f. Foiksk., 1925— 1926, p. 149 ff. ; E. 
Thurfton, Omens and Superstitions of Southern India (Lond., 191 2), 
p. 144 f. ; Hopkins, JAOS, vol. 21, 2nd half (1900), pp. 146-159 ; 
also Apart. -Dharmas., i, 6, 19.1. For the dharna cp. Schurtz, 

Urgesch. d. Kultur, p. 615. 

2 Cp. ii, 72.14 ; iii, 277.51 ; viii, 91.19, 20 (Ram., vii, 68.9). 

3 In the same way King Dama wants to drink the blood of a low cun- 
ningevil-doerwhom he has cut down in battle, but is stayed by thegods, 
Mark. -Pur., cxxxvi, 34. The drinking of a slain man's blood, indeed, 
is a wide-spread curtom, found also in Germanic olden times. As 
is well known, it has, mainly, other motives than that of angry revenge. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

to her. It is he then who takes on himself the charge from 
his mother, burning for expiation, to take revenge on the 
murderer of the five (x, 1 1.8, 9, 20 ff.). He also takes wrathful 
vengeance on King Jayadratha, when the latter has carried 
off Draupadi (iii, 264-272.24, especially 272.7 ff.). He 
alone, too, ^eps into the li^s on her behalf, when the Lothario 
and royal favourite, Kicaka at Virata's court tries to 
rob her of her honour, a truly captivating chapter, inviting 
us to a more particular examination (iv, 14-24). 

According to the agreement the Pandavas have to spend 
the thirteenth year of exile somewhere in hiding and unknown. 
They hire themselves out in various positions at the court 
of King Virata : Yudhishthira as Reward of the prince's 
gambling-house (sabha^ara), Bhima as his cook, and circus 
wre^ler, Arjuna as a eunuch in woman's clothes, and as teacher 
of dancing and music to the young princess and her companions, 
and so forth. Draupadi goes as chambermaid and coiffeuse 
into the service of Queen Sudeshna; and theysucceed in keeping 
quite unknown. But at the end of ten months Kicaka, the 
queen's brother, the leader of the army, and all-powerful 
favourite, gets to see the dazzlingly beautiful maid, and is 
fired with love for her. In glowing words he sings the praises 
of all her charms from the eyes down to her pubic parts, vaulted 
like a river-island, paints his agony of love, beseeches her to 
save him, and shows her how mistaken she is to wish to live 
as a lowly maid. He offers himself to her as husband and 
slave, and says he will ca^ off his wives, and make them the 
servants of the servant that now is, and give her all the earth's 
delights to ta^e. He is, he tells her, the real ruler in the land, 
and none on earth is his equal in beauty, youthful bloom, 
success with women, wealth, and other splendid things. But 
she bids him bethink himself what a heavy crime, what a 
shameful deed, and how dangerous a thing it is ever to touch 
another's wife. Moreover, she says, she is the wife of five 
hot-tempered Gandharvas, who would kill him. Whether 
he were to penetrate into the earth, or fly up into the air, 
or flee to the other shore of the sea, he cannot escape these all- 
de^roying sons of the gods, these cleavers of the air. He is as 
the child sitting in its mother's lap and wanting to clutch the 


moon. Kicaka now took refuge behind his si^er, and by his 
desperate plaints moved her to take pity and help him. Followmg 
her diredions he made a fea^ ready, and set out much food 
and heady drink. Then Sudeshna bade her maid : " Arise 
and go into Kicaka's house, O kind one, and fetch me some- 
thing to drink ; I am tortured by thir^." DraupadI answered : 
" I would fain not go into his house. Thou thyself, O queen, 
knowe^ well how shameless he is. And I wish not in thme 
house to follow the luft of the flesh, nor sin again^ my husband. 
Kicaka, indeed, O thou with the lovely hair, is blinded, and 
over-daring in love. He will bring dishonour on me, if he 
sees me. I shall not go there, O fair one. Thou haft many 
serving-women landing at thy bidding. Send thou another, 
for he will show me the little efteem he has for me." Sudeshna 
spoke : " He will never do thee any hurt, if thou art sent by 
me." With these words she gave her the golden vessel, fitted 
with a lid. Weeping and filled with fear, Draupadi went. 
Kicaka called out to her right gladly : 

" Welcome, lady with lovely hair ! 
How bright the night is lit for me ! 
Hither as my lady thou doft come. 
,Be kind, fulfil my longing. 

Gold wreaths shall to thee be brought 

and wondrous ornament of silken robes, 

gold rings, shells, ^one jewels ; 

a divine bed ^ands ready for thee ; 

come hither and with me sip 

the sweet glory of the intoxicating drink." 

" 'Twas for spirits that the king's daughter 

sent me hither to thine house. 

' Bring me to drink at once ; 

I am athir^.' Those are her words." 
The lover answered that the queen had other serving-women, 
and took hold of her garment ; but she pulled it towards 
her with all her ftrength, and so pulled him to the ground. ^ 

1 In the same way she pulls Jayadratha onto the ground, when he 
takes hold of her, the lonely one, in the foreft of banishment, and tries 
to carry her off (iii, 268.24). 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Then she ran for proteftion into the sabha,^ where Yudhishthira 
was. Kicaka ran after her, caught hold of her by the hair, 
threw her down, and kicked her. But then a Rakshasa, 
whom the sun god had sent Draupadi, after her prayer, to ^and 
by her unseen, headlong as the wind took him off, and flung 
him to the ground. Yudhishthira and Bhima saw what 
happened ; over Bhima's eyes there passed a mi^y shadow, 
the sweat broke out from the dreadful wrinkles on his forehead ; 
hand to hand he pressed, and ground his teeth in fury. His 
eyes were fa^ened on a tree landing near. But Yudhishthira 
was anxious le^ it should be found out who they really were, 
made him a sign, and said : " O cook, an thou need wood, 
then go outside (beyond the city), and bring down trees for 
thyself." 2 Draupadi controlled her countenance, but threw 
dreadful, almo^ burning glances at her husbands, and bitterly 
bewailed the faft that this son of a Suta dared kick her, the 
wife of such mighty heroes, with his foot, and that, coward- 
like, they ^ood not by her ; King Virata, too, she felt, and his 
counsellors were shamelessly neglefting law and ju^ice; they 
were calmly looking on at the crime again^ an innocent 
woman, they were afting like thieves and robbers. But 

^ The sabha serves both as gambling-house and as the place of 
ju^ice ; cp. 9I. 43. The sabhya and sabhasada (gl. 33, 36 if.), and 
the men who sit in the rajasarnsad (31, 43) are both law and gambling 
confreres of the king. H. Schurtz would see in the sabha the well- 
known " unmarried men's house ". 

* Vrikshan nigrihyatam ; we should expeft perhaps : nikrityatam. 
K (19, 36) has samulam gatayer vriksham, which reads smoothly 
enough, it is true, but is anyhow not in the original, as, indeed, 
the whole Kicakaparvan in K shows many insertions and changes of 
an evidently later date. The passive with the accus. has many parallels 
in the Epic. The neareft to our case is Ram., vii, 59.2 : Madartharn 
pratigrihyatam jararn paramikam ; and the accus. with the gerundive : 
kiyad adhvanam asmabhir gantavyam imam idrigam = " how far 
muft we go along this road made thus " (xviii, 2.16), where probably 
we hardly have simple Prakrit neuters, although the neuter adhvana 
is often found in the MBh. Cp. too the accus. with the pass, infin. 
in ii, 48.17 (liter, indeed : " I know by what the overcoming of Y. 
is made possible."). See e.g. also iii, 68.25 ; xii, 215.14; xiv, 29.22 ; 
71.14; 87.12 ; XV, 3.59 ; etc. 



Yudhishthira showed her she mu^ put a check on herself ; 
he told her that her Gandharva husbands did not deem it 
now the time to take revenge, and would see to that by and 
by. Draupadl cried out : " I am but too considerate for 
these weak-souled men. The fir^-comer may beat ^ them, 
whose eldert is a dice-player." After these words she ran 
weeping and with breaming hair into Sudeshna's abode. She 
purified herself, washed her limbs and her clothes, and considered 
what she should do. She decided that only Bhima could 
and would help her. So in the night she crept to him in 
the kitchen, clasped him as a creeper does the tree, and awoke 
the sleeper : " Rise, rise, wherefore do^ thou lie sleeping, 
O Bhimasena, like a dead man ! For no evil man touches 
the wife of a man that is not dead, and sTiill lives." Bhima 
Parted up, and asked her what was digressing her. She 
bur^ into bitter complaints of what she had already had to 
bear, and that now at the fresh insult her heart was ready to 
burft. But what else could she exped, since Yudhishthira, 
the evil dicer, was her husband, the man who had brought 
himself and all belonging to him from kingly pomp and splendour 
into the very depths of poverty and contempt ! 2 She now 
drew a pidure of the degrading life the brothers led ; and she 

1 Or : slay. . . 

2 In K. she expresses herself far more emphatically ^ill. There 
among other things she cries out (22.45 ff-) ■ " ^e thou my^ay ; 
I do not wish to turn to Yudh., the man without ftrength of will, 
without the passion of revenge (amarsha), without manhood. Oh ! 
may no woman bear such a son ! ... As the rutting lord of 
the herd, the sixty year old elephant, tramples with his feet on the 
bilva-fruit fallen to the ground, and squashes it, so do thou, O man- 
tiger, pound in fragments Kicaka's skull, after thou haft flung him to the 
ground. If Kicaka rises to-morrow morning, and when the night 
has grown light [accus. absol. (;arvarim vyushtam, as, for inftance, m 
V, 194.2; vi, 3.35; 60.1; vii, 7446; 76.27; 29.44; ix, 30-21, 
like the not unfrequent prabhatam ^arvarim], sees the rising sun, 
then I can no longer live. ... And put the blame on thine eldeft 
brother, the evil dice-player, through whose fault I have been brought 
to this boundless sorrow. But they, whose head and eldeft is a shame- 
ful ftain on his family, will probably, as men of humble spirit, follow 
after their excellent brother." 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

herself, she said, was a slave ; she, the once proud daughter of 
a king, she a queen, whom the sea-ringed earth had obeyed, 
muft wait in awe on her mi^ress, with her delicate hands 
pound sandal-wood and prepare salve, and tremble to see 
whether it was to the liking of her lady. And she showed 
Bhima her hands all horny. Bhima raised her hands to his 
lips, and wept with her. Then he explained to her that he 
himself had wished to take a bloody vengeance at once, but 
Yudhishthira had ^ood in the way ; she mu^ have patience 
only a little while longer, until they could come forth before 
the world. But she made him see that the danger from the 
all-powerful woman-hunter was too great, and that the warrior 
has no other duty but to de^roy the foe. As so often before, 
so now again Bhima mu^ save her. " Break this man 
mad with love, like a pitcher on the ftone ! If to-morrow 
morning the sun rises on him, who has brought me so much 
unhappiness, as on a living man, I shall mix myself poison, 
and drink it ; but I will not fall into Kicaka's power. It is 
better I should die here before thine eyes, Bhima." Weeping, 
she leant again^ his breaft, and he spoke loving words of 
consolation to her. Then he wiped away her tears, licked 
the corners of his mouth ^ with rage, and spoke : " I will 
slay him even to-day together with his kindred. Give him 
a try^ this evening. There is the dancing-hall, built by the 
king of the Matsyas. By day the maidens dance there, at 
night they go home. In it there is a heaven-like, firmly 
made bed. On it I will show him his forbears that died before 
him. Look to it that thou art not seen speaking with him, 
and that he comes there." 

Next morning Kicaka spoke scornfully to Draupadi : 
*' Before the king's eyes did I throw thee down in the sabha, 
and kick thee with my feet, and there was none to save when 
a ^rong man laid hold on thee. It is I who am really the 
king of the Matsyas. Do thou take me joyfully, and I am 
thy slave. I will give thee forthwith a hundred golden 
nishkas, a hundred slave-girls, and as many slaves, together 
with a chariot drawn by she-mules." She made answer : 

^ An angry man's gefture often mentioned (so, e.g. iii, 157.50, 52; 
V, 162.17; vi, 84.12; 94.5; 96.22; 102.29; iii.ri; xii, 8.2). 



" Do thou now make this condition vath me, O Kicaka : 
no friend or brother of thine mu^ know that thou meeteft 
me. If there is evil speech of me, I am afeard of the glorious 
Gandharvas.i Promise me this, and I will do as thou willed." 
Kicaka spoke : " Thus will I do, as thou saye^, O thou with 
the lovely hips. Alone I shall come into thy lonely abode, 
to unite with thee in the madness of love, so that the Gand- 
harvas, shining as the sun, may not see thee." " Come thou 
by darkness into the dancing-hall that was built by the king 
oif the Matsyas. By day the maidens dance there, at night 
they go home. This the Gandharvas will not remark. 
There of a surety we shall avoid any harm." As DraupadI 
talked on of this thing, to Kicaka the half-day seemed as a 
month.2 Then Kicaka went back to his house, overwhelmed 
with joy ; in his blindness he marked not his death in the 
form of the waiting-maid. Being much given to scents, 
ornaments, and wreaths, he hazily adorned himself, mazed 
with love. While he was thus busied, the time seemed to 
him very long, for he thought but of that great-eyed one. 
Right splendid did he look, ju^ when he was to leave his 
splendour behind, like a light when it is about to fade away, 
and drives to use up its wick to the end. Draupadi slipped 
away to Bhima, told him all, and once more with ^rong words 
called on him to bring the haughty one, who used contemptuous 
words about her Gandharva husbands, to his end. Wild with 
rage, he boated he would tread down Kicaka's head, as the 
elephant does a bilva-fruit, and slay all the Matsyas, and then 
Duryodhana, and rule over the earth ; Yudhishthira could 
^ay on as a servant to his heart's desire. But she impressed 
on him that he mu^ carry out the vengeful deed in secret. 
In the night the thirfter after love came into the hall deep in 
darkness, and spoke with a heart birred with joy : " Mine 

1 Probably less likely : I am afraid of evil speech about the Gand- 
harvas (anupravadad bhitasmi gandharvanam ya^asvinam). In view 
of what follows the meaning might rather be : I am afraid that the 
Gandharvas will upbraid me. 

2 The inftrumental, probably Hter. : " became through Kicaka, 
in K.'s eyes " ; or the modal : "according to K., in K.'s opinion." 
Kicakasya in K. is probably a reading which has been touched up. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

house and my women's apartment, adorned with fair-shaped, 
mo^ pleasing young women, and bright with merriment and 
love's pleasures — all this I have left for thy sake, and have 
come hither.i Quite of their own accord (akasmat) the 
women that are in the house do constantly sing my praises : 
' Fair-clad, and a sight of splendour art thou, and no other 
man is equal to thee.' " Bhimasena called out : 

" Luck be with thee, thou vision of all splendour ! 
Luck be with thee, thou singed thy loud praises ! 
Now will something be brought thee 
such as thou never yet haft touched. 

Contaft thou doft: know, thou haft been diftilled 
with every kind of water, and art well skilled 
in the way of love, thou dehght of women ; 
no man can here be seen like thee." ^ 

Saying this, he sprang up and laid hold of his wreathed hair. 
But Kicaka clasped him with his arms. And now began a 
long, hard-fought wre^ling-match between the two fkout 
opponents. But at length Bhima overbore him, squeezed 
his throat, and Wrangled the life out of him like a bea^.^ Then 
with awful ^rength he rammed arms and legs, head and neck 
into his trunk, so that only a shapeless lump of flesh 
remained. He then called Draupadl, kindled a light, and showed 
her the sight. Full of joy she ran and told the wardens of 
the sabha that the Gandharvas, her husbands, had slain Kicaka, 
the lu^er after women. The kindred, and followers of the 
murdered man came, and wanted to vent their rage on Draupadl. 

^ I would read sarnhayaham inftead of sahasaham. It is hardly : 
Allotting thee . . . my house, I have come at breathless speed. 

2 Or perhaps better : " as the delight of women no man can here 
be seen like thee." 

3 It is only by the sanctifying death from the weapon (^aftraputa) 
that the warrior comes into heaven, as the MBh. tells us over and 
over again. The hero, therefore, likes to slay a specially hated foeman 
in such a shameful way (pa^umararn marayati), so that the wretched 
man may thereby lose paradise. Moreover, it is also awkward if we, 
like Yudhishthira (xviii, r), see C. F. Meyer's words coming true : 
Even in heaven wc may meet a man we cannot bear. 



They laid hold of her and dragged her with them to the place 
of the burning to give her to the flames along with the lover, 
and so do him a loving service even in death. Loudly she 
cried out for help, and Bhima leaped over the wall, and fell 
on the Sutas, tearing up a mighty tree, and swinging it as a 
weapon. In terror the men let the girl go, and fled before 
the supposed Gandharva. But he killed a hundred and five, 
"this made with Kicaka a hundred and six." Filled with 
fear and terror they now importuned the king to take all 
care left his kingdom should fall a prey to de^rudion ; for 
the Gandharvas, they said, were so ^rong, and the waiting- 
maid too fair ; and such a lovely objeft for the senses attraded 
men all too Wrongly to the pleasures of love. Virata now 
exhorts his wife to send away the waiting-maid, saying he 
could not tell her for fear of the Gandharvas,^ while a woman 
would not come by any harm if she did it. Meanwhile 
DraupadI came home again, and the girls, who were being 
taught by Arjuna disguised as a eunuch, came out and con- 
gratulated her ; but the queen asked the dangerous one to go 
away. DraupadI begged to be allowed to ^op another thirteen 
days (iv, i^'M)-^ 

1 Naturally tarn is to be read inftead of tvam (24. to). 

2 With our tale compare above all Holtzmann, Das Mahabh'arata 
u. seine Telle, iv, 98 ; Dagakumaracar., p. 172 ff. (Pushpodbhava's 
adventure), espec. 176 fF., and my note on p. 178 ; Da^avataracar., 
viii, 5 5 5 (a woman may have Gandharvas as husbands ; these then 
kill any man touching her) ; Weber's Ind. Studien, xv, 337 (in the 
Simhasanadvatrim?., a Rakshasa even lays hold of a surpassingly 
lovely hetsra) ; Kuttanlmatam, 347 (a demon has a woman in his 
possession and slays her lover). Dandin's tale is assuredly not un- 
conneded with the Kicakaparvan. 

The Gandharva, and later the Gandharvas, as owners before marriage, 
and afterwards lovers of the wife, and other lawful spirits have been 
alive in Indian thought since Vedic times, and, as is well known, there 
is nothing singular about this faft ; for mongers, and supernatural 
beings of every kind, even Chriftian saints, know only too well how to 
appreciate fair women, and often bring down misfortune or deftruftion 
on the mortal man who is the mate of such a one. See the St. Petersburg 
diftionaries, and Monier-Williams, under " Gandharva " ; Pischel u. 
Geldner, Vedische Studien, i, 77 fF. ; L. v. Schroeder, Myfierium u. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Mimus, p. 60 fF. ; 309 f . ; 324; Brihadaranyaka-Up., vi, 4.19; 

Divyavadana, p. i ; Crooke, Pop. Re/., i, 243, 264 ; Garnett, T/ie 

Women of Turkey, etc., ii, 92 ff. ; 378 ff. ; Dunlop-Liebrecht, 68, 

468, n. 1 26 ; Revue des trad, popui., 14, p. 480 ; Basset, Contes popul. 

d'Afrique, 151 ff. ; Ploss-Bartels *, i, 391 ff . ; Mtyer, Isoldes Gottes- 

ar/^/7, note No. 214; Altind. Rechtsschr., 373; Reitzen^ein, Zeit- 

schr.f. EthnoL, vol. 41, p. 657 f. The woman belongs fir^ to Soma, 

Gandharva, and Agni, and only afterwards to her husband. Thus 

she can never be sullied ; Soma (the moon) gives her purity (^auca), 

Gandharva (probably a genius of fertilization) her sweet voice, and the 

fire god gives her the Painlessness (to be taken adively and passively, 

" cleanness," sarva-medhyatva) in her whole body and being. Rigveda, 

X, 85.40-41; Paraskara's Grihyasutra, i, 4.16; Hirany-Grihyas., 

i, 20.2 ; Vasishtha, xxviii, 5-6 ; Yajnav., i, 71 ; Baudh., ii, 2, 4.5 ; 

Jolly's note to Narada, xii, 28, in SBE, vol. xxxiii ; Agnipur., 165.9, 

l9-2ia; l^leytr, J/tind. Rechtsschr., 22 L\ 229; 373-375; Winter- 

nitz. Die Frau in d. ind. Religionen, i, p. 33 [7]. Probably this belief 

that the spirits feel thus drawn to earthly women is not without its 

influence on the origin of the widespread Tobias nights, and the tale 

in the Biblical book is therefore worthy of all attention. On these nights 

see e.g. Weber, Indische Studien, v, 325 f. ; 330 f. ; 347 ; 359 f. ; 

368; 375; 377; of the Grihyasutras : (Jankhy., i, 17.5; 

A9val., i, _8.iof.; Gobh., ii, 3.15; Parask., i, 8.21; Hir., i, 

23.10; Apart., iii, 8.8; Meyer, Altind. Rechtsschr., 373; 

Garnett, The Women of Turkey, i, 240 ; Schmidt, Jus primae 

nodis, p. 149 ff. ; Mantegazza, Geschlechtsverhdltnisse, 252, 

289-90; Henne am Rhyn, 28; McLennan, Primitive Marriage, 

181 ; L. von Schroeder, Die Hochzeitsgebrauche d. Efien, 192 ff. ; 

and of course Ploss and Wertermarck. An intererting case is found 

in the Tavola ritonda, ed. Polidori (Bologna, 1864), p. 93. At a 

feart at the court of King Marco the lovely Donzella dell'Aigua 

della Spina and Trirtano ogle one another and fall in love. As a 

typical lady of the Middle Ages, after leaving the table the rtricken 

lady goes at once to the hero, offers herself to him, and then by a 

message sends for him to come by night to her chamber. Then it 

goes on : Trirtano entra nel letto con lei, e goUazono e d^nnosi piacere 

e diletto. Vero e che la donzella avea preso marito di sedici giorni 

dinanzi, non che ancora si fossono congiunti insieme : impero ch'egli 

era usanza a quel tempo, que quando gH cavaheri prendeano dama 

(a wife) egli rtavano trenta giorni inanzi ch'eglino si congiugnessono 

insieme ; e ciascuno giorno insieme udivano messa ; acci6 che Iddio 

perdonasse loro i'offense, e anche perche perdeano la loro verginitade 

e venivano al conoscimento carnale ; e pregavano Iddio che di lor 



uscisse fuori frutto che fosse pro al mondo e grazioso alia gente e degno 
a Die e che portassero loro matrimonio con leanza. 

Anyone with a knowledge of the sexual ways of the Middle Ages 
smiles at this meaningly to himself, as also at the words of Schweiger- 
Lerchenfeld which he regales us with in his description of Indian 
wedding cuftoms : " The abftinence, too, by the newly wedded couple, 
for three whole days, has come down to us as a shining symbol from 
the mifts of antiquity with its lofty conceptions of charity " {Die 
Frauen des Orients, p. 591). 

The firft and main reason for this phenomenon, as also for the 
so-called " romantic reserve " of the newly Vv^edded connefted there- 
with, that is, the secret visits of the young husband, is to be sought, 
however, elsewhere than in that union of spirit-beings with the earthly 
woman. Nor does " marriage by capture " (McLennan and others), 
*' paying the price of maidenhead " (Ploss-Bartels and others), 
"furthering fruitfulness " (Giinther, 85-86), or the various other 
suggeftions of this kind meet the case. The feeling of the sinfulness 
of coition which We^ermarck calls in is too little prevalent, and also 
in the main of too late a period to give an explanation. Thus we ask : 
Why is coition outside wedlock not dangerous because of its unclean- 
ness ? And why is continence only kept for so short a time ? To me 
the matter presents itself thus : The coition which we call unlawful, 
lechery or fornication, is in general pradised without any hesitation 
among very many peoples and tribes. It is no more than a pleasant 
sport, and of no importance. Thus the myfterious powers do not give 
any heed to it, either. But marriage is a thing of great importance, 
indeed it is a dov/nright injury done to nature and to the beings which 
hold sway in the darkness of nature, and especially in woman. Up to 
now they have been, the owners of the woman. Now a man becomes 
her private owner. This is a robbery done to them. Thus with marriage 
— butnotwithsexualintercourseoutsidemarriage — the man is threatened 
by the sharped malice of magical powers. But the demons are very 
ftupid. So they only watch the door (Jat., ii, 79, introdud:. ; Dubois- 
Beauchamp ^ p. 499; Zeitschr. d. Ver. f. Folks k., 11, p. 268; 
Zeitschr.f EthnoL, Bd. 30, p. 353 ; Ploss-Bartels, i, 560), beheve that 
if the child has an ugly name, or is spoken of slightingly, then nothing 
will happen, and so on. If then the newly wedded refrain at the 
beginning, these simple fools of spirits imagine that it will go on 
in this way. Among many peoples and tribes a short time only of 
charity is enough to trick the evil powers, among others due trouble 
muft be taken. Thus it is that those, too, who have not been long 
married come together by health, or in the fore^, in the open, for the 
spirits only watch the house and what goes on in it, especially in such 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

a case as this. In other places, indeed, the young married couple muit 
for a long time keep themselves carefully shut in, particularly by night, 
but this, too, is only because of the spirits who are then so powerful. 
See, for example, Weber's Ind. Studien, v, 331, 347; Garnett, i, 
241-2, 324; ii, 257; Mantegazza, 256; McLennan, i8r, 186-7; 
Weftermarck, 15 1-2; Anthropos, iii, 185. When the demands on 
the woman's purity are more highly developed, there is furthermore 
the superftitious dread before the my&T:ery of the fir^ blood, which 
gives an opening for the demons — the firft cause of the so-called " right " 
of the fir^ night. This la^ also is primitive, and at iirft an evil 
necessity ; the slave and the Granger, the latter as a foe or one of no 
account, not indeed, as the fable has grown up, as the representative 
of the god, are called in for the task ; the kinsfolk or the girl herself 
has to see to the defloration as a duty ; it falls to the lot of the shaman, 
the prie^, or of the chief or ruler, who is more or less proof againft 
the spirits. In the case of the Tobias nights, the thought may then 
at an early ftage have been present, that through self-denial or even 
self-torture the demons (and the gods also) are won over ; there may 
also be other ideas. But we mu^ not forget that it is the husband 
who is the one threatened by the greateft danger ; others are not so 
Wrongly, or not at all, afFefted by the myfterious powers as such. 
Thus the Kamchadale widow muft firft lie with another man so that the 
ghoft of her firft husband may not kill his successor (Hartland, Prim. 
Patern., ii, 183); and the husband of the adulteress among some tribes 
on Lake Nyassa cannot approach her again before another man has 
lain with her ritually (Hartland, ii, 122). Hence, too, the girl's 
" preliminary husband ", used as a lightning-conduftor. See 
R. Wilhelm, Chines. Volksmdrchen, p. 236. And so on for other cases. 
A like superftition is very likely at work in the case of the " iirft night " 
also, but certainly in other cases belonging here. Among the South 
Slavs in^ead of the bridegroom it is the groom's men, the mother-in- 
law, and the sifter who during the firft night share the bed of the 
newly wedded wife. Krauss, Sitte u. Branch, 382, 456. And if we 
find that among them the young wife muft: not, for a whole year, refer 
to her husband by his name, this has probably a like cause : the name, 
in accordance with a well-known belief found all over the world, 
as part of a person's being, gives a hold to the hoftile powers ; the 
young husband muft at firft, therefore, keep a ftrid incognito. To 
see so confidently in this only the trace of earlier " hetsrism ", as is 
the cuftom, seems to me very ill-founded. " Evil, harm " and " sin " 
often coincide in thought and in speech. The Russian " gryekh " 
(" sin "), too, denotes hkewise " harm, hurt ". Might not in the same 
way the corresponding South Slav word, provided always that purely 


Now Kicaka, who in spite of his coxcombry, was a ^out 
warrior, as K. at lea^, proves in a special chapter on his 
descent and doughty deeds, does indeed show a certain 
romanticism in his passipn of love, anyhow in his relations 
with DraupadI ; for as she herself shows him clearly, it means 
a sacrificing of his own advantage that he should want to 
make her, the unclean waiting-woman, his wife. Otherwise, 
however, he is evidently a typical representative of a class of 

Chriftian ideas are not at work, have nothing about it of what Krauss 
sees in the " child through sin ", but rather might there not be a 
glimmer of the primitive meaning of the magically dangerous ? And such 
cuftoms as the handing over of the bride to thewedding-gue^s may well, 
in so far as it is not hospitality towards the gue^s, in many cases 
have as firft purpose the moft thorough securing of the husband 
againft the myfterious powers that are thus tricked. Many wedding 
cu^oms, such as the well-known flight of the bride, her druggies, the 
pitched fight with the bridegroom, the keeping back of the bride, 
and so on, have been traced back to marriage by capture. Here and 
there it may be that one at lea^l of the reasons is to be found in this. 
But originally probably there was often the purpose of throwing 
duft in the evil spirits' eyes. Anyhow there are a few, very few, cases 
where force has to be used on the bridegroom. So it is among the 
Garos (Maj. A. Playfair, The Garos, Lond., 1909, p. 67 ; Crooke, 
Pop. Relig. and Folk-Lore, etc., i, 121 f . ; We^ermarck, 158 f . ; 
Finck, Prim. Love, 649). It muft be noted that among them only the 
girl may propose marriage, and if a love-blinded young man lets him- 
self be carried away into doing such a thing, it is a great insuh to the 
whole family. Zeitschr. f. EthnoL, Bd. 5, p. 268 (after Dalton). 
Also among the gipsies in India we find the bridegroom's " mock 
refusal " at the wedding. Devendra N. Das, Sketches of Hindoo 
Life, p. 238. Among them the girl has sexual freedom, and makes 
her own choice in marriage. Ibid. 237. In the end we find it true 
here too that man, above all, more primitive man, is after all no 
memory-mechanism. Even among the bea^s the male muft often get 
the female as his hunting-booty, and overcome her while she ftruggles, 
and so on. And every woman is a Sabine, as Olaf in Johannes Linnan- 
koski's great novel Laulu tulipunaisefia kukafla (Song of the Fire-red 
Flower) says ; she wishes to be carried off. Is it likely that so ftrong 
an in^inft in more primidve man — for imitation, for play, for the 
symbolical and the use of his powers of imagination — would have 
slumbered at the wedding above all i 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

men who are seen everywhere in the Epic, especially among 
the Kshattriyas.^ 

It is true the assertion is made of the barbarians (Yavanas, 
Paradas, (^alcas, and Balhikas) that they are woman-mad 
(vii, 93.42) ; but the wail of the noble wife (i, 158), whose 
husband mu^ go forth to the monger as the tribute-prey 
of the Rakshasa, is not only the fantasy born of her anguish. 
She shows him how men will fall upon her and their daughter 
in their blind greed, and mishandle them for their own ends, 
so soon as their proteftor is gone. They will not, in short, 
be left to ^ay on the path of virtue. " As the birds swoop 
down on a piece of flesh thrown on the ground, so do all swoop 
on a woman that lacks her husband" (9I. 12).^ A woman, 
especially, in a menial position, was naturally in Old India 
always in danger, although, to all seeming, not the outlaw 
she is in Europe ftill to-day, or anyhow in German lands. 
As it naturally cannot be expedled of princesses to underhand 
anything else, but ju^ to be princesses, Draupadl as well as 
DamayantI has to condescend in misfortune to take service 
as a chambermaid ; for she already knows something of 
wreaths, perfumes, ornaments, and fine clothes. But she 
reminds Yudhishthira : " Chambermaids are unprotected 
in the world, they are slave-girls, O Bharata " (iv, 4.15 ff.) ; 
and the future was to bring what she feared, as we have ju^ 
seen. The man wants only to enjoy a woman, not to marry 
her, as, for in^ance. Ram., vii, 79-81 : Danda, the ^upid 
youngest son of King Ikshvaku, sees the young and lovely 
daughter of a holy man, and is fired with a passion for her. 
She warns him of the fatal anger of her father, and that he 
mu^ ask for her as his wife ; but he forthwith ravishes her. 
The holy man makes a seven days' rain of ashes to fall on the 
place ; so everything lies dead there, and this is the Dandaka 
fore^.^ " The man would not come to the taking home 

^ " He was one that mowed down soldiers, and an evil adulterer," 
we find said of him in iv, 25.3. 

2 It is noteworthy that as to her daughter her anxiety is, above all, 
left Qudras and others not worthy of the maiden may ask for her in 

^ Cp. the end of Jat., 497, and 522 towards the end ; Meyer, 
Hindu Tales, 114 if.; and further Dvaraka's fate, which has so many 



(as bride) of a maiden did not the ' ^ick ' (danda, the ju^ice 
that punishes) proted " (xii, 15.37). ^^^ ^^^ danda, according 
to the much-preached Indian view, indeed brings about all 
moral order whatever in the world ; and on the other hand 
the men in Old India were juft the same as men throughout 
the ages. It is so, too, that King Dhritarashtra mu^ naturally 
be judged. He has a mo^ excellent wife, Gandharl, but also 
from a Vai^ya woman a son Yuyutsu. His descendant 
Janamejaya asks Dvaipayana, the relater of the Mahabharata : 
" Why did he hurt her by unfaithfulness .? " The answer 
goes : " Since the belly of the (pregnant) Gandharl waxed 
and pained for so long a time, a Vai9ya served him, and from 
her was the son born " (i, 115.47 5-> 4i> 4^)- On the other 
hand, the note of wonder in Janamejaya's queftion might 
well be looked on as illuminating. Even holy men and 
penitents are no spoil-sports there, but we see them even as 
brothel-keepers of a kind, or rather, as the ho^s presiding 
over free tables of love in mo^ magnificent ^yle. When 
Bharata went forth to fetch back the banished Rama, he came 
with his mighty army also to the hermitage of the Rishi 
Bharadvaja. This Rishi by his miraculous powers entertained 
the whole crowd of warriors in a way that was a real dissipation 
of the senses : from out of Indra's paradise he called down 
the whole ho^ of the Apsarases, and from other heavens other 
divine women. Twenty thousand of these wondrous beauties 
were sent by Brahma, twenty thousand by Kubera, twenty 
thousand by Indra ; even the creepers in the fore^ did the 
yogi turn into delightful women. Seven or eight of these 
charming examples of ravishing womanhood gave each 
warrior, mo^ly married (cp. Ram., 33, 82.25 and 26), their 
services for the bath, and offered him heady drink — spirits and 
spiced liqueur (maireya),^ whereof there were whole ponds 

parallels in Eaft and Weft. It went ill, too, with Yavakri(ta), the 
insolent son of a penitent, who ravished (majjayamasa, MBh., iii, 
136) the daughter-in-law of Raibhya againft her will. See also Tod, 
Raja^han, ii, 39. 

1 The scholiaft says in MBh., vii, 64.6, that this word means a 
mixture of spirits (sura) and asava (rum) ; in xiv, 89.39, 
that it means a " heady drink coming from the tree " (vrikshajam 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

and rivers, and the flower-cups of their divine bodies — to 
say nothing of the heaps of rare meats, and other choice foods, 
and carnal pleasures. It is no w^onder that the soldiery danced, 
and laughed, and sang there, and to this air : 

" This is heaven ! Hail to thee, 
O Bharata ! Here we ^ay ! " — (Ram., ii, 91.) 

Among the gods there are by no means few who show mortals 
the be^ example. " Bhadra was the daughter of Soma (the 
moon god), held to be firft among women for beauty. Soma 
deemed Utathya a husband worthy of her. And she, the 
peerless, the glorious one, for Utathya's sake gave herself up 
to ^ridl penance, pradlising the loftie^ mortification, she with 
the lovely limbs. Then Soma called Utathya to him, and 
gave him the splendid one to wife, and the pious man took her 
in lawful wise. But already before this the lordly Varuna 
had loved her, and he came to Vanapra^ha ^ on the Yamuna, 
and carried her off. And when the lord of waters had carried 
her off, he brought her to his city, which is a wonder beyond 
compare to the eye, to the place of the six thousand lakes. 
For no other splendid city is fairer than this, which shines with 
palaces, Apsarases, and heavenly delights. Xhen the god, the 
lord of the waters, took his delight with her. Then the 
news was told Utathya of this shame done to his wife.^ So 
soon as Utathya had heard all this from Narada, he spoke unto 
Narada : ' Go, speak these sharp words to Varuna : Give up 
my wife at my bidding ! Why haft thou carried her away ? 
Thou art a warden unto the worlds, not a world-de^royer. 
Soma gave me my wife, and now thou haft robbed me of her.' 
Thus at his bidding was the lord of waters addressed by 
Narada : ' Give up the wife of Utathya ! Why hafl thou 
carried her off ? ' When Varuna had heard these his words, 
he spoke : ' She is my much-loved wife ; I cannot give her 

madyam), that is, palm-wine ? fruit-liquor ? Much better information 
is given as to the ingredients by Kautilya (transL), 186.17-187.3 ; 
Ya^odhara in Kamasutra (Durgaprasad's ed.), p. 54. 

^ Or : into the mountain fore^. 

2 Patnyavamardana ; perhaps simply : coition with his wife. 
Cp. abhimardana, rubbing, coition, in Divyavad., p. 624. 



up.' Having been thus addressed by Varuna, Narada now 
came to the Muni Utathya, and spoke with heart not at all 
gladdened : ' Varuna took me by the neck and threw me out, 
O great Muni. He will not give thee thy wife. Do what 
thou muft do ! ' When the Aiigiras had heard Narada's 
words he was angered, and drank, as a great penitent, the water 
through his sublime ^rength, holding it up.^ Although 
now all the water was drunk up, and the lord of water was 
besought by his friends, yet he did not give her up. Then 
spoke Utathya, the be^ of the Brahmans, hot with anger, 
to the earth : ' My dear friend, do thou make the place of 
the six thousand lakes to come forth as dry land.' Then did 
it become a salt desert, as the sea flowed away from that place. 
And to the river ^ also spoke this mo^ excellent Brahman : 
' Thou timid one, flow unseen towards the sand-wa^e 
(marun prati), O SarasvatI ; unhallowed be this place when 
thou ha^ left it, thou kindly one.' When this land was now 
dried up, the warden of the waters came with Bhadra, and 
gave the scion of the Angiras his wife, taking refuge with him. 
Utathya welcomed his wife, and was very glad, and he set the 
world and Varuna free from afliidlion. What he with the 
knowledge of the law, the very mighty Utathya, spoke to 
Varuna, when he had received his wife, do thou now hear, 
O herdsman of men : ' I have won her through the might 
of my asceticism, while thou art moaning, O water king.' " 
After these words he took her and went to his abode (xiii, 
154.10 ff. : cp. I53-3-5)- 

But a regular Don Juan from heaven is Indra, like the Greek 
king of the gods, his colleague.^ In days of old he Parted 

^ So according to ix, 29.54; 30.8,44,56,63,66; 31.2,4,20; 
32.38 ; 54.31 (cp. i, 1.209 ; 2.283), where Duryodhana flees into the 
pond, and by his magic powers heaps it up about himself, in like wise, 
probably, as it happened for the children of Israel. In the following 
he is always seen as being in the water. In our passage perhaps 
vishtabhya might in itself be more naturally translated : suppressing 
it ; that is to say, he made it vanish, dry up. An adlual drinking dry, 
as in the case of Aga^a, is probably not meant ; but cp. xiii, 153.3 ff. 

^ Feminine in the Sanskrit. 

^ For him too the god of love makes the coy ones yielding, as for 
Zeus. Kumaras., iii, 14, 1 5 ; Parvatlparinayanat,, ii, ftr. 8. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

to win laurels in this field, and the later literature often tells 
of his love affairs (cp. Wilson, Seleded JVorks, iii, 35 ; Weber's 
Indische Studten, v, pp. 249-50). In spite of his faithful wife 
(^acl, who, however, was kept very wan and haggard, and in 
spite of his ho^ of heavenly hetaerae, the Apsarases, he is drawn 
to the women of the earth. Everywhere he lies in wait for 
beautiful women, and changes himself into every kind of 
shape so as to enjoy them, ju^ like his more maje^ic but 
correspondingly craftier brother of Olympus, or like Odin 
in Germanic mythology. Ju^ as Zeus once came to 
Amphitryon's wife in the shape of her husband, so did Indra 
come to Ahalya, as we have already touched upon (xii, 266 ; 
Ram., i, 48 ; vii, 30.20 ff.).^ After he had given the bad 
example, had brought love-making with other men's wives 
into the world, this also spread among mankind (Ram., vii, 
30.33). To what a pitch of cunning invention he had reached 
in the seduftion of women will be shown shortly in another 
connexion. And in other ways, too, this heavenly libertine 
is fond of playing all kinds of tricks on women, as is to be seen 
from the tale of Devayani and ^armishtha. 

Thus, too, we find it given as the pride of the earthly warrior, 
and the pidlure of mortal man's glory " to press the breads 
of loving women, to make gifts, and to slay foes " (viii, 83.23 ; 
94.46, 47). So Bhuri9rava's wife, when bewailing the dead 
man, boa^s thus of his hand that Arjuna has shot away : 
" This is the hand which slew heroes, and gave security to 
friends, which gave thousands of cows, and dealt death to 

1 In the account of the Ram. (i, 48.19 ff.), it is true, Ahalya very 
well recognizes the ruler of the gods with all his disguise, and gladly 
welcomes the change for the more voluptuous entertainment it will 
bring ; and in the account in the Kathasarits. (tar. 17, 9I. 137 flF.) she 
even encourages her lover ; a change of shape is thus not really needed. 
Cp. Zachariae, Zeitsckr. d. Ver. f. Folks k., Bd. 16, p. 131 ; Toldo, 
ibid., Bd. i 5, p. 367 if. That supernatural beings take on the outward 
appearance of the husband, and so lie with the wife, is indeed a wide- 
spread belief (see Ploss-Bartels, i, 392) ; and earthly men have often 
reached their objeft in the same way, by magic or otherwise. King 
Arthur, indeed, is the fruit of such a trick (Malory, Morte d' Arthur, 
i, 2). 



Kshattriyas. This is the hand that took away women's 
girdles, pressed sweUing breads, felt navel, thigh, and secret 
parts, and loosened aprons" (xi, 24.18 ff.).^ Cp. too, 
Gandharl's lament for her fallen sons in xi, 19.14, 18. The 
same ideal for princes is found in ii, 54. 1 1 . The happy man 
has fair women, and rice with meat (ii, 49.9 ff.). See e.g. also 
ix, 56 f. ; vi, 17.8 ff. j xiii, 57.13 ; 106.22, 30, 32 ; K, xiv, 

Now everything on earth is limited ; so, too, the supply 
of beautiful women for each man, and no less so his ^rength 
for enjoying them. In heaven it is otherwise. Times 
beyond count the Epic emphatically says that the doughty 
man is rewarded in the world beyond with boundless joys 
of love, and hoils of wonderful women. In particular the 
Apsarases are often mentioned as a kind of Indian valkyries, 
or rather, houris of paradise, and the welcome is painted which 
they give the hero fallen in the fight.^ As an ever-present 
spur in the fiery speeches of the battle-leaders, and in the 
thoughts of the warriors, we find the glorious prospedl of this 
unmeasured bliss. But all other good deeds as well, and all 
the virtues are rewarded in this way : asceticism, facing, 
alms-giving, gifts to the Brahmans, and so forth ; and the 
member of the prie^ly ca^e muft naturally in this not be left 
behind others, although the warrior, indeed, in these, anyhow 
mainly, warlike poems comes before us as the chief candidate 
for those very willing ladies of heaven. Here we only 
mention a few passages : xiii, 96.18, 19 ; 82.85, 86, 88 ; 
64.17,30; 106.53 ff. 5 107.6 ff. ; iii, 186.7 > viii, 49.76-78; 
xii, 98.46 ; 99.4 ; Ram., iv, 20.13 ; 24.34 ; Holtzmann, 
ZDMG, 33, p. 642. 

1 Proudly Duh^asana, hurled to the ground, ^ill shouts out in the 
shadow of death : " This is the hand that has pressed swelling breads, 
that has given thousands of cows, and has dealt death to Kshattriyas " 
(viii, 83.22). See also especially Duryodhana's great speech in ix, 
5.22 ff. This hero's body above the navel is made of diamond, but 
below it of flowers for the delight of women (iii, 252.5 ff.). 

2 The later artificial Epic, as is well known, is lavish with similar 
descriptions (e.g. Raghuv., vii, 50 ; Kumaras., xvi, 36, 48 ; ^ifup., 
xviii, 60, 61). Cp. Da^akum., p. 144. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

And thus much more evidence could be brought forward 
showing the dehght in woman and woman's love which is 
part of the Epic heroes' life. And as in the later and the erotic 
literature, the public gardens and pleasure-groves are a chosen 
place for tender adventure. There in the evening men and 
women seek their pleasure, and attend the joys of love in the 
shelter of the trees and bushes (Ram., ii, 71.22, 25, 26).^ In 
swift carriages the upper world of love, too, drives out, modish 
and dashing, to the tangled fore^ (Ram., ii, 67.19). Picnics 
in the forest and park are often found in the Epic. All kinds 
of choice foods are taken, but above all intoxicating drinks, 
for ju{\i as the Hindus in the narrative parts of the Epic know 
nothing of the Brahmanic horror of flesh — indeed that moft 
^ridl Brahman, the pious Rama, is a very great connoisseur 
in this matter (Ram., ii, 91.1 fF.) — so also they show themselves 
to be very fond of intoxicating drinks, particularly of the 
sura which is so heavily condemned by the law books and the 
ascetic writings. And the women, the nobleft among them, 
too, are quite a match for them. Bacchus and Venus as elsewhere 
in India, so also in the Epic, show themselves as brother and 
sifter.^ We have already been told how the haughty and high 
daughter of a Brahman, DevayanI, and the royal princess 

^ It is no wonder that Smriti forbids the delights of love in 
park, garden, or foreft. 

2 Cp. Raghuv., vii, 11 ; my Da^akum., 64 fF. ; 231 ; Amitagati, 
Subhashitasamd., xx, 24 (ZDMG, 61. 119); Rajendra Lala Mitra 
in the Journ. of the Roy. Asiatic Soc. of Bengal, 1873, Part i, No. i : 
" Indo-Aryans," i, 3 89 ; Phear, The Aryan Village in India and Ceylon, 
90 ; R. Schmidt, Liebe u. Ehe in Indien, 44 fF. Especially good 
descriptions of drunken and therefore extraordinarily attraftive and 
amorous women are given in Kiratarj., ix, 5 r fF. ; ^i^up., x, 1-38. 
— Beft of all things on earth is the ta^e of varuni and latvaka-birds 
(MBh., xii, 180.31). Only the Brahmans were forbidden spirits 
by (^ukra, as we have been told, and although they do not always 
abstain from it in the Epic, yet abstinence ftruck root among them 
from early times ; and how great an abomination was intoxicating 
drink to the members of the prieftly ca^e later on, is shown even by 
Vidushaka in the Nagananda (see my Samayamatrika, pp. xxvii, xxx). 
The original grounds for this horror are pointed out by me in Altind. 
Rechtsschr., pp. 25 f ; 352. 



Carmishtha with their girl-friends and serving-women make 
a merry fore^ picnic, and how they there quaff sweet 
intoxicating drink (madhumadhavl) (i, 81.1 ff.). A quite 
classic description of such a river and forest outing is given 
in i, 222.14 ff- • Some days later Arjuna said to Krishna : 
" It is now the hot days ; let us go to the Yamuna. When 
we have taken our pleasure there together with our friends, 
we will come home again in the evening ; be pleased to do 
this, O Janardana." Krishna spoke : " O son of KuntI, 
it is also pleasing to me that we should take our pleasure together 
with our friends by the water to our heart's desire." When 
they had taken leave of Yudhishthira, and had got his consent, 
the two, the son of Pritha, and Govinda, then went, accompanied 
by their friends. Speedily the women's band (antahpura) 
of Krishna and Arjuna, in all their manifold shining jewels 
came upon the scene, when they had reached the incomparable 
pleasure spot. This was covered with all kinds of trees, furnished 
with all kinds of houses, comparable with Indra's city, provided 
with many kinds of well-taking and rare meats and drinks, 
as too with wreaths and manifold perfumes. And all did 
make merry after their desire. And the broad-hipped women 
with enticing, swelling breads, and lovely eyes did sport around, 
with drunken, stumbling gait. Some of the lovely ones of 
Krishna and Arjuna sported in the forest, others in the water, 
others again in the houses, according as the place disposed, 
as their pleasure urged them. Draupadi and Subhadra, 
both merry with drink, beftowed clothing and ornaments 
on the women. Some danced in unbridled gladness,^ others 
shrieked and screamed with joy ; some among the glorious 
women were laughing, and the others drinking the beft of 
rum (asava). Here some were clutching hold of one another,^ 
and ^riking each other, others again were talking their secrets 
over among themselves. Houses and fore^ were filled 
everywhere with the sound of the sweet flutes, lutes, and 
tambourines, in glorious splendour beyond words. Arjuna, 
too, had juft received as a wedding-gift from Krishna a full 

^ Or : in wanton excitement (prahrishta). 

^ Were holding one another fa^ ? barred one another's way 
(ruddh) .? 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

thousand of mosT: delightful girls of ftill tender years, to wait 
on him at bathing and drinking entertainments (i, 221.49-50). 

Then there were all kinds of entertainments, where drinking 
and other merry-making played a great part. So the festival 
already mentioned in honour of the mountain Raivataka in 
Krishna's kingdom. " And this mountain was adorned ; 
it shone, covered with the mo^ manifold, many-coloured 
treasures made of precious rtones, with the mo^ splendid 
gold wreaths, as also with flowers and garments and wishing- 
trees.^ And always decked with golden branched lights, 
it blazed like the light of day, in its caves and waterfalls. It 
was as though it sang, when many-coloured banners bearing 
small bells, and men and women filled it everywhere with 
sounds. A sight of splendour beyond words did it offer, 
like Meru with its bands of Munis. The din from the drunken, 
merry, singing women and men rose even into the sky, con- 
fusedly filled with the merry shouting and screaming ^ of the 
roaring, drunken men and women, crazed with delight. Thus 
did the mountain delight the heart with the sounds of joy, 
furnished, too, with chapmen's booths and markets, enticing 
the heart, abounding in all kinds of food and pleasure haunts, 
covered with a great array of cloths and wreaths, resounding 
with lutes, flutes, and drums. Great magnificence was given 
to the fe^ival of the mighty mountain, by the unending be^owal 
on the poor, the blind, the needy, and so forth, of hard and soft 
foods, together with spiced liqueur (maireya) and spirits 
(sura) " (xiv, 59.5 ff.). 

Not less so did the great sacrificial gatherings also offer 

^ Probably natural trees, or ones set up (poles), hung with all kinds 
of splendid things (kalpavriksha). 

2 Read utkrushta. — Kshvedita, kshvedati is very often found in the 
Epic, and especially of the sounds of lufty fighting, of courage and 
defiance in battle, and so on. Although it is found very often in the 
MBh. with this meaning, yet Nil., so far as I know, does not give a true 
explanation anywhere. But in the Ram. there is several times to be 
found very useful matter. So kshvedita and kshveda = sirnhanada 
(v, 4.12 ; vi, 4.26) ; and better ftill, though a Httle indefinite, in vi, 
59.8 ; kshveditani =sva9auryapraka9aka9abdah (in the text along with 
sirnhanada, as also often elsewhere). 


opportunity enough for women's drinking. Thus we find at the 
endof thedescription of the horse-sacrifice made by Yudhishthira 
fxiv 8q ^Q ff.) : " So was the sacrifice of the wise kmg ot 
u^ice and truth a flood of many foods and precious ^ones, 
a sea of spirit-drink and spiced liqueur (maireya). At it were 
ponds whose mud was made of molten butter, mountains ot 
foods, rivers whose mud was of curdled milk with sugar and 
spices Folk saw no end there to the cakes and sweetmeats 
that were made and eaten, nor to the bea^s slaughtered. 
Pleasant it was there with the soundsof drums and shell-trumpets, 
with all the drunken, noisy, happy folk, and the crowd of right 
merry young women." ^ But at ordinary times, too, fair 
ladies were much given to heady drink, as it is to be gathered 
from various passages ; and in the description of Ravaijas 
flock of women (Ram., V, 9 ; 10.30 ff. ; 1 1.2 ff ; i«.io tt.j, 
reference is often made to their love of drinking. Lven 
Sita that pattern of Indian womanhood, is no exception here, 
although naturally she keeps away from a pleasure such as 
this in her captivity and separation from her husband. But 
when she is again united with Rama, she makes up font. 
"When the son of Raghu had come into the thick a<;oka- 
grove, he sat himself down on a seat splendid to behold, 

1 Nil , however, thus explains ragakhandava : " Bean soup with 
pepper and ginger is khandava ; if sugar is added then it is raga- 
khandava." So! too, referring to xv, 1.19. On the other hand in 
vii 61 .8, he gives it = gudodana. In vii, 64.8, ragakhanciavapanakan 
therefore in all probabiHty ragakhandava, appears as a kind of drink, 
or an ingredient of a drink. _ . _ 

2 So, too, the religious feftivals (mela) m our days are merry fairs , 
and at sacrificial feftivals, even the death-meals (graddha), there are 
wild goings on ; and so on. S. Devendra Das, Sketches of HtndooUfe 
70 ff ; 122 if. Bose, The Hindoos As They Are, 258 ff. It is no 
without reason that the law writings ordain that the gue^s (Brahmans) 
Tt the .raddhas shall eat in silence. So Manu, m, 236 ; Yjn-an.>a 
i, 238 : Vishnu, Ixxxi, n, 20; Saurapurana, xix, 28. And the od 
Greek hecatombs are " really nothing buta great popular feftival to 
which a fair is added ". E. Meyer, loc. cit., p. 105. So, too, to the 
banquets to Brahmans given by women it is especially women that 
come, and they give themselves a good time, and even get drunk 
(i, H7-5 ff-)- 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

decked with many flowers and flrewn with ku^a-grass, and 
he took Sita by the hand and gave her pure, sweet heady drink 
to quaff, as Indra did to ^acl. The tendered meat and various 
fruits were quickly brought by the servants for Rama to eat ; 
and before the king, bands of Apsarases and snake-fays, well 
versed in dancing and singing, surrounded by Kinnarls, did 
dance ; and skilled women with the gift of beauty, under 
the spell of heady drink, and trained in dance and song, danced 
before Kakutftha. These heart-gladdening women did Rama 
ever fill with gladness, he the be^ of gladdeners, he with the 
virtuous soul, he filled them with gladness, them the preciously 
adorned. Sitting with Sita, he shone with sublime splendour, 
like Vasishtha sitting with Arundhati. Thus did Rama, 
attended with joy, delight Sita day after day like a god, Sita 
like unto a daughter of the gods, the princess of Videha " 
(Ram., vii, 42.17 ff.). It seems, then, quite natural that she 
who had been carried oflr by the monger should speak scorn- 
fully to him : " There is the same difference between Rama 
and Ravana as between the lion and the jackal, between a 
brooklet and the great sea, between sour rice-gruel (sauvlraka 
and choice spirits " (Ram., iii, 47.45). And so, too, 
she throws at him in Mahabh., iii, 278.39, 40 : " How could 
a cow-elephant after having come to a rutting, noble, fore^- 
roving giant bull-elephant, touch a pig ? How could a woman 
that has drunk madhvika and madhumadhavl feel any longing 
after sour rice-gruel ? " ^ The lovely drunken woman is often 
used in comparisons also, for in^ance, in vi, 75.34 : "So 
did thine army, ravaged by Bhlma and Arjuna, reel hither and 
thither, like a drunken woman " (cp. vi, 7 7 -61 ; vi, 100.19 ; 
ix, 9.37 ; xii, i64.63).2 

1 Nil. says that madhvika is an intoxicating drink got from flowers, 
madhumadhavi one made from honey. 

2 Cp. R. Schmidt, Ind. Erotik, 190-193. The Ganga rushing 
down from the sky, likewise is seen as a tipsy woman (iii, 109.10). 
Cp. e.g. iii, 187.44. Even the so-called lifeless Nature feels the spell 
of intoxicants on lovely lips ; according to Indian poetic convention, 
the bakula (or kesava) cannot bloom unless its ftem has been besprinkled 
with such moifture from the mouth of a young and pretty woman 
(e.g. Raghuv., ix, 33; xix, 12; Lokapraka9a, Ind. Stud., vol. 18, 



And indeed the woman drinks, mu^ drink, and looks so 
delightful under the effefts of intoxicating drink, because 
by it love is helped, as, too, the Indians often say. The Epic 
also often hints at this, or lays ^ress on it. Here we give 
only one or two passages. Woman easily becomes shy and 
ashamed, but under the effects of drink, she puts her arms 
round her beloved (xi, 20.7 ; cp. xii, 167.38 ; Ram., iv, 1.85).^ 

p. 325 ; Parvatiparin., iii, 6). A pleasant womanly impression also 
is made by the cu^om of putting flowers, especially lotus-flowers 
and those of the sahakara-mango, in the intoxicating drink (Kavya- 
dar?a, ii, 157 ; Kirat., ix, 56 ; ^igup., viii, 52 ; x, i, 3, 5, 8, ir ; 
XV, 12; Ravanavaha, xii, 14). Flowers and shoots, indeed, keep 
evil away, and bring good, e.g. ii, 21.51. 

^ When drunk a person shows his true nature (Qi^up., x, 18 ; 
Ravanav., x, 80). And woman's nature and calling is love, and : 
" Every woman is at heart a rake," as Pope says. This, acccording to 
Kirat., ix, 54, is brought out by intoxicating drink. But it shakes the 
morality of the fair (MBh., vi, 77.61). — According to Gobhila's 
Grihyasutra, at the wedding the bride, after the wedding oracle, is 
sprinkled with sura, so that her whole body is moiftened with it, and 
at the same time this formula is spoken : " Kama, I know thy name, 
intoxication is thy name." On the Brahmanic view, indeed, not only 
is spirit-drinking (surapana) in iiself one of the four deadly sins, 
and holding the threat of dreadful punishments in this world and the 
other, but also women's offending is heavily condemned. A 
woman who partakes of spirituous drink is set on the same level as 
the murderess of her husband, or as one using abortion, and so forth ; 
and for her, as for the suicide and other great sinners, no death-gift 
mu^ be made (Manu, v, 89 f, cp. ix, 13.80). The Brahman woman 
who thus sins cannot come after death into the world of her husband, 
but is caft out into the loweft births of all (Vasishtha, xxi, ir). And 
intercourse with a spirit-drinking woman is a serious offence (Vishnu, 
xxxvii, 33 ; cp. Vas., xxi, 15) ; and he who sees a woman of good 
family (kula^ri) drinking sura, mu^ look at the sun to cleanse himself, 
utter Vishnu's name, and bathe in the clothes he has on his body at 
the time of the ill-omened sight (Mahanirvanatantra, xi, 163 f.,cp. 122). 
This laft-named, highly inrtruftive work, translated by Manmatha 
Nath Dutt (better by Arthur Avalon, with an excellent introduction, 
Luzac and Co., 19 r 3), as a Tantra book, praises sura, indeed, in the 
moft dissolute phrases — this freer of living beings, this annihilator of 
all sins, this mother of pleasure and release, this augmenter of under- 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Thus Tara, Valin's widow, who is set forth as a pattern, when 
she goes over to the conqueror Sugrlva, fir^ makes herself 
tipsy before beginning the new pleasures of love (Ram., iv, 
33-38 ff.). 

Further love-kindlers are the beauties of nature, and spring 
with all its signs of bursting life : the green of plants and 
splendour of flowers, bird-song, and the humming of bees, 
and all the reft ; and the wind, particularly the spring wind, 
is the arousing friend not only of fire, but also of Kama. 
This is more particularly described in the account already given 
of how Pandu finds death in the way Ovid wished for, and 
that Frenchwoman in Brantome ; and is touched on or told 
at length in other tales. Here we may recall, too, the aesthetically 
so well thought out description of the fore A glories in the old 
saga of Dushyanta and (^akuntalii, which introduces in a two- 
fold meaning the love scenes that follow it. Cp., for in^ance, 
also iii, 136. 1-3 ; 158.67-69. But a locus classicus is to be 
found in Ram., iv, i ff. 

" When Rama, together with Lakshmana, went to that lotus- 
lake (Pampa) filled with day-lotuses and blue lotus-flowers, he 
bewailed himself with mind awhirl. Scarce had he seen it 
but his senses quivered for joyful excitement ; fallen under the 
power of the love god, he spoke these words to the son of 
Sumitra : ' Son of Sumitra, Pampa is shining with its water 
clear as the cat's-eye jev/el, with its wealth of blooming day- 
lotuses and blue lotus-flowers, adorned with trees of many kinds. 
Son of Sumitra, behold the grove of Pampa, so glorious to see, 

landing, science, and knowledge, and so on, but at the same time 
condemns excess in biting words (e.g. xi, 105-123), and gives this 
drinking rule for the Kaula-rites : — 

So long as the fteadfaft look wavers not, 
So long as the mind's light flickers not, 
For so long drink ! Shun the re^ ! 
Whoso drinks ^ill more is a bea^. — (vi, 196). 

According to Baudhayana, i, i, 2.1 fF., it is the cuftom " in the north " 
to drink intoxicants, and in particular Brihaspati, ii, 28 ff., records it 
of the women there. This is in order there, for it belongs to the cu^om 
of the land ; for in Old India also, as is well known, cuftomary law 
prevails (dharma = cuftom, usage, law, right). 



how the trees, rising as though to mountain-heights, ^and 
up Hke rocky sleeps. But I, who am parched through with 
sorrow, I am tortured by agonies of soul in my grief for Bharata, 
and for the raped princess of Videha. The flower-crowned 
creepers around us clasp everywhere the flower-laden trees. 
This season with its grateful wind, the scented moon of spring, 
when flowers and fruits have come forth on the trees, kindles 
a ^rong love. Behold, O son of Sumitra, all the shapes of the 
rich-flowered forces, that shed a rain of flowers, as the clouds 
shed water. And on the lovely plains all the manifold trees of 
the grove, shaken by the ^rength of the wind, be^rew the earth 
with blossoms. The wind blowing forth from the mountain- 
caves seems to sing, through the notes of the drunken kokila- 
bird, bringing, as it were, the trees to dance. How grateful 
is its touch as it blows along cool as sandal-wood, carrying hither 
a pure scent and bearing weariness away. 1 he trees seem to 
sing with their wreaths of bees ; their tops are roofed with 
flowers, much shaken by the up-tossing wind. The joyfully 
birred water-cock by the enchanting waterfall, sets me, a 
prisoner of love, sorrowing with his notes. Ere now in the 
hermitage my beloved heard his call, called me to her in delight 
and welcomed him in utmost joy. With the water-cock's 
cry oflove's delight, and the song of the male kokila-bird these 
trees resound, setting the passion of my love afire. This fire — 
the spring, whose (glowing) embers are the flowery cluflers 
of the a^oka grove, whose crackling and roaring are the notes 
of the bees, and whose red flames are the young shoots — this 
fire will burn me up. For life has no meaning for me, O son 
of Sumitra, if I do not see this woman with the soft-lashed 
eyes, lovely hair, and gentle speech. Look, O Lakshmana, 
the love-racked peahen dances on the mountain-top to 
the dancing peacock, her mate, and the peacock havens, 
filling with longing, to the darling one, spreading his shining 
wings, and, as it^were, laughing while he calls. Clear it is that 
the Rakshasa has not robbed the peacock in the fore^ of his 
beloved. And to me, too, would come the great-eyed daughter 
of Janaka in welling maze and love, were she not robbed from 
me. Even if 'tis spring there where my darling is, yet Sita, 
in the power of another, will of a surety be mourning juft as 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

I am. But without a doubt spring does not touch that place ; 
for how could she with the black lotus-eyes go on living without 
me ! For of a truth Sita's soul is sunk in me, and my soul is 
utterly sunk in Sita. This coolness-bringing wind, scattering the 
flowers, and softly caressing, is for me, who am thinking of my 
sweet one, as fire. I could bear the love that came to me, were 
it not that spring, which brings the trees to blossom, were 
wounding me. My eye believes it sees the petals of the lotus- 
cups — ah ! Lakshmana, so do the flower-cups of Sita's eyes 
indeed appear. Mingled with the threads of the lotus-flowers, 
and coming through the trees, the delightful wind blows hither 
like Sita's breath. ^ The creepers follow after (the loved ones) 
like drunken women, climbing from tree to tree, from rock 
to rock, from forest to fore^. Without compare shimmers 
the dark-green and yellow sward, bespread with the various 
flowers of the trees as with rugs — it Wretches away like a bed. 
If but my beloved were to be seen, if we could both dwell here, 
then should I not envy the king of the gods, nor Ayodhya, 
For if I could take joy together with her on this delightful 
grassy floor, then should I be filled with care no more, nor any 
longing after other things. See, the he-gazelles that rove with 
their mates this way and that, on the many-coloured mountain- 
tops, rend my soul, for eyes like the young gazelle has the 
princess of Videha from whom I am parted. Ah ! Where is 
Sita now, my darling one, who, obedient to virtue, came slowly 
after me, when I was sent into the fore^ by my father ? To 
me, who am now consumed by love, she spoke kind words, she, 
the brown one, the kind one, although in the depths of the 
fore^ and suffering, and as if free from pain, and filled 
with joy.' " 

Now in spring alone, that flighty youth, and all its glory, and 
in nature with its splendour, reliance or something like it is not 
always to be put. Moreover, it is not everyone that is susceptible 
to such. Thus, in India, the land of magic, the love-charm 
in its mo^ various shapes flourished from Vedic times." The 
women, of course, pradtised it particularly, and, above all, to 

^ Or : sighing breath. 

^ See Weber's Ind. Studien, v, 218 ; Winternitz, Altind. Hoch- 
zeitsritueii, pp. 26, 97 ff. 


the end of getting their husband's love, and keeping it, and of 
bringing him under their sway, but above all else to the end of 
wre^ing him from the rival, and keeping her away or deftroying 
her. What is to be found in the Epic on this subjedl will be told 
later in another chapter. 

And why should mankind at all times and among all peoples 
not try every possible means to win the love of one desired ? 
Love and the joys of love are often deemed to be the higheft 
of all earthly blessings, and, indeed, not only among the Indians. 
Often these latter ponder the question : Which of the three 
ends of life : dharma (duty, religion, virtue), artha (worldly 
advantage, wealth, high position, etc.), kama (desire, enjoy- 
ment, love) is the highe^ ? Thus, too, the hve sons of Pandu 
discuss this hard riddle (xii, 167). Each one gives his opinion. 
Bhima speaks : " Without kama a man has no wish for worldly 
profit, without kama a man does not ftrive after the Good 
(dharma), without kama a man does not love ; therefore kama 
^ands above the others. For the sake of kama the Rishis even 
give themselves up to asceticism, eating the leaves of trees, 
fruits, and roots, living on the air, and wholly bridling their 
senses, and others bend all their zeal to the Vedas and lesser 
Vedas, making their way through the whole of the holy ^udy, 
as also to ance^liral offerings, and sacrificial afts, to alms-giving 
and alms-taking. Traders, husbandmen, herdsmen, craftsmen, 
as also arti^s, and those that carry out adions consecrated to 
the gods, give themselves up to their works because of kama. 
Others, again, take to the sea filled with kama ; for kama has 
the mo^ varied forms : everything is beeped in kama. No 
being ever was, or is, or will be, higher than the being that is 
filled with kama. It is the innermost core (of the world), O 
king of righteousness ; on it is founded dharma and artha. 
As butter from sour milk, so kama comes forth from artha 
and dharma. 1 For oil is better than the squeezed oil-cake, and 
better melted butter than butter-milk. Better is the flower and 
the fruit than the wood, kama is more excellent than artha and 

1 It is the flower that blooms from them ; they are both only 
praftised to win the gifts of kama. But the literal translation is perhaps : 
" As butter is better than sour milk, so is kama better than artha and 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

dharma. As honey is the sweet juice from the flower, so kama 
is from these two, according to the teaching of tradition. Kama 
is the womb of dharma and artha, and kama makes up their 
essence. Without kama the manifold workings of the world 
would not be thinkable. 

Give thyself up to kama, take thy joy with women 
In fair garb and ornament, and sweet to behold. 
With young women loosed with the madness of drink ; 
For kama, O king, for us is greater of all." ^ 

All-powerful is love. " If the god of love draws nigh a man, 
there is no gainsaying him, although he has no body " (v, 
39.45, 46). Kama is one form of Agni, an all-penetrating, 
devouring fire, Kama the unspeakably great and lovely. " He 
that in form has not his like in the heaven of the gods, the god 
of fire, has been named Kama by the gods for his peerless- 
ness " (iii, 219.23).'- Therefore, too, the man in love is not 

^ Countless Indian passages teach the same thing. Here we give 
only a few: Kuttanimatam, 801; Kathakautukam, i, 30; 67; 
70-71 (love is the higheft thing) ; Mark.-Pur., Ixv, 33 fF. (the world 
is made up of kama). Therefore, too, the full enjoyment of love and 
the world of sense is a right of mankind. King Yayati is cursed by 
(^ukra to grow old at once, for having afted so ill by Devayani. But 
he has not yet tafted kama and youth to the full, and therefore begs 
his sons in turn to take on themselves his old age for a thousand years, 
and lend him their youth for such time, but each finds old age too ugly 
and joyless ; only the youngeft, Puru, is ready at once. Yayati 
delights himself for a thousand years with his beloved wife ^armishtha, 
and enjoys the objects of sense also, but in virtuous wise. At the end 
of the thousand years he gives his son youth, takes over old age, and 
acknowledges that kama is never billed by kama (i, 83 if. Cp. Ram., 
vii, 58, 59, where the same tale is found again somewhat different; 
elsewhere, too, it is found with differences again ; cp. Wilson's Seled 
JVorks, ed. Roft, vol. iii, p. 36 f). Sexual union is (together with 
sleep and food) the law and the right of the body (dehadharma. Ram., 
iv, 35.1). 

2 Cp. the great St. Petersburg Diftionary, Bd. ii, col. 218 ; Weber's 
Ind. Studlen, v, 225, 226 ; and MBh., xiii, 85.11, 16 f, 22, where 
Kama is seen as the eternal, great original godhead, and is also identified 
with Agni. Cp. Rigveda, x, 129.4 ; Ath.-Veda, x, 2.19. The world 
is made up of Kama. Mark.-Pur., b:v, 33 ff. 


responsible ; he is in the hands of a higher power. So Bhima 
reminds Hidimba : " This young woman has no hold over 
herself ; she now loves me. She is driven by the god of love, 
and it is on him the blame falls" (i, 153.25 ff.). As by sleep 
(x, 4.22), so is shame taken away by love (v, 35.50 ; 37-8). 
Ram., iv, 33-54-57 paints in the same way the all-conqueror, 
love. The lover knows no law, no virtue (dharma), and he 
mu^ be shunned (v, 33.101 ff.). He that leaves kama behind 
himself, reaches to profit (iii, 313.78). It is in tender love 
(sneha) that sorrows have their root,^ from it comes all anguish ; 
joy and sorrow and suffering — all springs from it. Ju^ as a 
fire in the hollow of a tree burns up the prince of the foreft, 
roots and all, so does even the lighted passion destroy what is 
good and useful. Overwhelmed by passion, man is dragged about 
by kama. The wise man shuns a tender inclination, whether it 
be for friends, for worldly good, or for a woman (iii, 2.27 ff.). 
Indeed, Kama (lu^, love) is the ally of Mrityu, the goddess of 
death (xii 258.35 ff.). Apart from the de^ruiflion it otherwise 
brings, it is also samsarahetu, the cause of the continuance of 
this world of pain and death (iii, 313.98). Between such ascetic 
do6lrines, that are so often found in India, and the glorification 
of love as the one and only thing, there is also in the Epic the 
wise teaching : Enjoy love with discretion (e.g. xii, 140.26). 
It is often insi^ed, especially for the king, that not the morning, 
but only the evening mu^ be given up to women and love 
(so, ii, 5.69). It was indeed among the Old Indian rulers that 
there were very many, as already hinted, whose divinity was 
the vulva (bhagadeva, xiv, 43.15). Rules for love and wedlock 
from the ^andpoint of long life are set forth fairly numerously. 
" Let a man not go during the day to copulate, nor to a maiden, 
nor to a bad woman, nor to an unbathed (ftill men^ruating) 
woman ; thus shall a man have long life " (xiii, 104.108 ; 
cp. 150. 151). " Let not a man draw nigh unto women that 
may not be visited, nor unto the wife of a king, nor unto his 
woman friends (or : not to woman friends) ; not unto the 
wives of physicians, youths, and old men, of servants, kinsmen, 

1 Snehamulani duhkhani (cp. e.g. Laghucanakyam ed. Teza, vi, 
II ; Qivadasa's Vetalap. ed. Uhle, p. 53, £i. 17; Dhammapadam, 
210 ff.). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Brahmans, seekers of protedion, kinsmen by marriage ; thus 
shall a man have long life " (xiii, 104. 1 16 ff.). It brings well- 
being to wed a grown (vayah^ha) girl, born in a noble family, 
held in praise, favoured with the bodily marks of happiness 
(xiii, 104.123, 124, 135). Then (131 flF.) a whole set of 
women are named that a man mub^ avoid, as in the law books ; 
and, further, it is taught that a man muft proteft women, indeed, 
but mu^ never harbour jealousy for their sake, since this 
shortens life, as does lying with another man's wife. Cp. 
the already discussed passage in i, 64.5 ff., and especially the 
chapter on the surata. 

But love mu^ be on both sides, and lead to the pleasures of 
sex ; for love has, as its natural fruit, sexual pleasure (kamorati- 
phalah, xii, 123.6). " If a man and a woman that yearn for 
one another reach their goal, then that may be compared with 
Amritam ; but if a lover cannot reach the goal of his wishes, then 
that is a misfortune which is the same as the poison-plant " 
(xii, 320.69, Deussen's transl.). " If a man love a woman who 
loves him not, then his body glows in torment ; a man has 
then joy when he loves her who wishes for him " (Ram., v, 
22.42-43). " Two kinds of human beings call forth tru^ 
from others (or : the highest tru^) : women that are loved and 
love, and folk that honour the honoured. ^ Two kinds of human 
beings are sharp thorns, de^roying the body : he that is poor 
and yet loves, and he that is weak and yet is angry " (MBh., 
V, 33. 55? 56). But he is loved who is near : " Love goes to 
him who is seen ; there is no leaning towards him who is not 
seen " (Ram., v, 26.39), which is what we read as boys, in 
Cicero.2 Cp. e.g. MBh., iii, 71.6. For the woman particularly 
this is true ; for, like the creeper, she twines round the very 
neare^ tree, the Indian says. Love does not at all go to the 
worthiest objed: : " We see a good woman in glorious beauty 

^ But after all this saying does not fit in with the following one, and 
is to be rendered : " Two kind of human beings put their truft in 
others : women that love a loved one (are loved and love)," etc. The 
pujitapujaka, he that praises and honours together with the multitude, 
is often condemned in the MBh. 

^ Cp. Bhartrihari, i, 42 (ed. Gopinath). Also Heinrich von Freiberg 
holds : Separation cleaves the heart's love {Tri^an, 319). 



going away unloved, and another without di^indion (alakshana), 
and ugly, sitting there on the heights of love's happiness " 
(xii, 224.34).! 

But if the woman is in love, and, anyhow, believes herself 
loved, then in Old India, as is well known, she usually goes 
herself to the house of her loved one for her purpose. ^ Of this 
a good example in Urva^i, the heavenly hetaera, is given by the 
Epic (iii, 45, 46), which, indeed, here also, is far removed from 
the over-refinement of the classical literature, and chooses 
to make Kicaka go into the house of the chambermaid Draupadl. 
Arjuna's eyes during his visit to Indra's heaven have been 
unwaveringly fixed on this Apsaras, and his very indulgent 
father, Indra, so versed in the things of love, is gladdened 
by the son who evidently has not fallen away, and who as a gue^ 
mu^ be provided with what he needs in this direction. Therefore 
through the Gandharva Citrasena as messenger and pander, 
he suggests, as already told, to this Ninon of heaven that she 
should make Arjuna happy. By the description of the manly 
beauty of this youth recommended to her favour, she, too, is 
fired with a hot love, and gives her consent. She bathes and 
then adorns herself mo^ splendidly, filled with the moft ardent 
yearning for the hero. " When the moon had risen, and early 
night had come, the broad-hipped one went forth and sought 
out the house of Pritha's son. Shining in her soft, curly, long 
hair, wherein she wore many jasmine-flowers, the heart-breaker 
went her way. With the moon of her countenance, and the 
delight of the movements of its brows, and the sweetness of the 
words tripping from her mouth, with her charm and her soft 
loveliness, she seemed to be challenging the moon as she walked 
along. As she went along, her breads, scented with a heavenly 

! This is ftill truer of the man : he is generally the more loved by 
women, the less he deserves it. Leminkainen, the merry bully, drunkard, 
and woman-hunter of the Kalevala is everywhere the cock of the walk 
with the hens fluttering and clucking around him in love ; the wise 
and noble Wainamoinen, bringing happiness to mankind, can only 
speak of ill-luck in love. 

^ But alas ! poor woman, and cunning man ! If the woman comes 
herself into the house of her beloved, then he does not commit adultery 
(Narada, xii, 60) ! 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

salve, black-nippled, rubbed with heaven's sandalwood, and 
shining from her necklace, were shaken up and down. Through 
the upborne burden of her breafls, and the sharp movements 
of them she was bowed down at every ftep,^ she with the 
surpassing splendour of the centre of her body,^ gloriously girdled 
around by the three folds. Below shimmered, spread out like 
a mountain, swelling on high like a hill-side,^ the place of the 
temple of the god of love,^ ringed by dazzling splendour, 
adorned by the girdle's band, tempting with heart-^irrings 
even the divine Rishis, the faultless seat of shame, wrapped in 
thin garb. Her feet, in which the ankles were deep imbedded, 
and whose toes made red and long-wretched expanses, glittered, 
being hung with small bells, and arched like the turtle's 
back. Her appearance was made Will more captivating by her 
having partaken of heady drink, and by her contented joy, by 
the love within her, and by her various sweet wiles. With 
Siddhas, Caranas, and Gandharvas the coquettish beauty went 
along, even in heaven, of a truth, where there are many 
wonders, a figure right worthy of remark, with her thinneW 
of upper garments that shimmered with the colours of the clouds, 
and like unto the slender sickle of the moon in the sky, as it 
rides along, wrapped in clouds. Then did the brightly smiling 
one reach, in but a moment, the abode of Arjuna, son of Pandu, 
haWening like the spirit, like the wind. When she had come to 
the gate there, Urva^T, she with the lovely eyes, was announced 

^ This is well known as an ever-recurring conception among the 
Indians. But such as it is, it does not sound more unreasonable than, 
say, the following passage, for which probably very many parallels 
could be found in the Weft : " She wore her deep-black hair in 
abounding quantity wound several times around the back of her head, 
and it was as if she had trouble to keep her delicate head raised under 
the heavy burden." F. K. Ginzkev, Jakobus iind die Frauen, 1908, 
p. 107. Yet many women that are blessed with thick hair do say 
that it is a dragging burden. 

2 But probably gobhita is to be read inftead of ?obhina. 

3 Or ; swelling on high with its buttocks. 

* In the same way this " high altar of the senses' pleasure " (Viereck, 
Niniveh, etc., p. 79) is called " the moft splendid sacrificial offering 
to rati (love's pleasure) ", Ram., vii, 26.16. 


to Arjuna by the. gate-keepers. She came into this faultless 
house, that was very delightful to the heart. With a mind filled 
with anxious doubts he came to meet her in the night. And so 
soon as Pritha's son had seen Urva9l, his eyes were dimmed 
with shame, and as he greeted her, he showed her the respedl 
that is shown to those of high station. Arjuna spoke : ' I bow 
my head before thee in greeting, thou mo^ excellent of the mo^ 
excellent Apsarases. Command me, goddess ; I have come to 
thee humbly as thy servant.' " UrvagI was utterly taken aback 
by these words, and explained to him at some length that at the 
singing and dancing which the Apsarases had performed in his 
honour, he had Readily gazed at her and her only, and that his 
father, her lord, had sent her. " In obedience to him I have 
come to thee, O queller of foes, drawn by thy charms and by 
my heart, and having fallen into the power of the god of love ; 
for I, too, O hero, have for long been cherishing this wish." 
But Arjuna, seized with shame, topped his ears so as not to 
hear such words, and declared that he had looked on her thus 
respefftfully as being the ancestress of his family, and that for him 
she was the wife of a high personage. " Urva^I spoke : ' We are 
all free and unfettered,^ O son of the king of the gods. Do not 
allot me the position of one of high landing, O hero ; for all 
sons and grandsons in Puru's race that come hither delight us 
(Apsarases) through their ascetic merit, and do no wrong by 
it. Therefore be kind, and send me not away in my need ; love 
and enjoy me, who love thee, and am fired with passion, O thou 
my pride.' But Arjuna was not to be shaken, and honoured 
her as his mother. Then was Urva^I overcome with rage ; 
quivering, with brows drawn awry, she cursed the winner of 
booty : ' Since thou wilt not give me welcome, me who 
had leave given me by thy father, and have come to thy house 
of my own accord, under the sway of the god of love, therefore, 
O son of Pritha, shalt thou live as a dancer amid^ women, 
bereft of honour, known as a eunuch, living as an 
impotent man.' When she had thus laid the curse on Arjuna, 
Urva^I went swiftly, with twitching lips and breathing heavily, 
back into her abode." When Father Indra learned of the 
business, he spoke with a smile to his virtuous son : " In thee 
Pritha has a good son ; thou ha^ outdone even the holy men 
^ Or : not forbidden (anavrita). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

with thy ^aunchness." This talc, however, once more shows : 
If a foolish man will not when a foolish woman will, then he has 
to pay for it heavily (cp. Mahabh., xiii, 23.75). 

" Now love itself springs from the idea (sarnkalpat, xii, 
163.8 ; cp. e.g. Manu, ii, 3), and sexual excitement (harsha) 
is born of the idea (sarnkalpa), and is born from sound, and is 
born, too, from tafte, and is born, too, from form " (xiv, 
24. 5). 1 As an explanation of the concept, iii, 33.30, 37, 38 
gives the following : kama, this wishful conception of the mind 
(cittasarnkalpa), is the joy that arises at the union by touch with 
material things (dravyarthasarnspar^a), when the five senses, 
the mind (manas), and the heart are taken up with an objeft 
of the senses. Finally it mu^ be mentioned further that we find 
no trace in the Epic of the exad: classifications of lovers and their 
counterparts among women, such as appear in the erotic and 
rhetorical treatises. The man who is called to high 
things and to good fortune has a thin, short member, a smooth 
glans, and hanging teflicles (Ram., v, 35.17 ff.). Cp. 
xii, 335-11 ; 343-36, 46-50.2 

^ That is to say, of course, through the mind, the ear, the mouth 
(the tongue), and the eye, all of which have a share in the beloved 
being. We miss the smell, and the moft important sense of all for love : 
spar^a, the touch, the sense of feeling. K. (25.5) then adds : "and 
is born, too, from the touch, and is born, too, from the smell." — As to 
samkalpa " idea, conception " cp. p. 309 of my Da^akum., as also 
MBh., iii, 298.36; xiv, 22.20, 27 ; Nil. on xii, 248.1. With the 
riddle set in Da9akum., 297, 306 fF., and the tale itself: " Love is an 
idea," may be compared : Jvafyakaerzahlungen, ed. Leumann, i, 
p. 26 ; Prabandhacintamani, p. 80, and Tawney's note ; Strieker, 
Das Block (ed. Lambel in the Deutsche Klassiker des Mtttelalters, 
Bd. xii, p. 103 fF. = Hagen, Gesamtabenteuer, ii, 171 ff.) ; Bandello, 
i, 22 ; F. T. Vischer, Auch Finer ^, Bd. ii, p. 227 ; Novalis (ed. 
Heilborn, 1901) ; H. von Ofterdingen, p. 139 (" Where is love } In 
the imagination ") ; Chauvin, vi, 15; Zeitschr. d. Fereins f. Folksk., 
vol. ii,.p. 300. 

2 Cp. e.g. Garudapur., 64.7 f . ; 615.10-14. Phallic worship or 
linga-worship in the Epic comes, of course^ from a later time, and is 
an interpolation, as is somewhat needlessly shown in JRAS, 1907, 
P- 337 ff- The following are a few details : (Jiva's member is always 
ftiff, and this because of his unbroken charity ; therefore it is 
worshipped by the world. It is always kept landing fixedly up ; 



he has a great, upstanding, pleasing linga ; he is head warden of the 
phallus, and appears in the penis, as being his origin (medhraja) ; 
the all-shaped god is in the linga, and through all the ages 
of the world he has been worshipped by the other gods, by the 
spirits, and the seers, in the linga ; the phallus-worshipper wins the 
higheft happiness and (^iva's whole approval. Because his linga 
ftands up, he is called the " landing ^ump" (Sthanu) in vii, 201.92,93, 
96; 202.124,133,140; xii, 166.48 ; xiii, 17.46,60,77, 128; 161. i r- 
18. See, too, xiii, 14. 161, 227-235. We may look on x, 17.8 ff. 
as a kind of hiftory of the origin of linga-worship : Brahma begs 
^iva to make the beings of the world, and he consents. But he then 
gives himself up to an endless tapas in the water. Brahma finds it 
too wearisome ; he leaves him to it as useless, and has the creation seen 
to by seven Prajapatis. Qiva. gets into such a fury about this that he 
literally " pulls out his own tail ", and throws it away ; the member 
drives into the earth, and fticks in it (in 9I. 23 read utpatya for utpadya). 
This tale is worthy of note ; for in the phallic cults and phallic myths 
of the world emasculation (ca^ration) plays a great part, but above all 
self-ca^ration. See Dr. W. Schwartz, " Der (rothe) Sonnenphallos d. 
Urzeit," Zeitschr. f. Et/inoL, vi, p. 172 fF. (his sun and thunder theories 
may, indeed, be left to look after themselves). Captation, although not 
the probably more primitive self-caftration, offers also another legend 
of the origin of the linga-worship, which is given us in a simpler and 
certainly older form by the Saurapurana (Ixix, <;\. 35—55), and then, 
following Sonnerat, by Schmidt, Lie6e u. Ehe in Indien, p. 23 ff . ; 
and in weak colours it seems to glimmer through ftill in the myth 
which Dubois, ed. Beauchamp^, p. 629 ff., repeats after the Lihga- 
purana. In this laft form Qiva and Parvati die in the midft of their 
love embrace, and come to life again in Linga and Yoni. On this tale 
and the origin of the linga-cult cp. Jahn, " Die Legende vom Deva- 
daruvana," ZDMG, 69, p. 529 ff, ; 70, p. 301 ff. ; 71, p. 167 ff., 
and also Deussen, 71, p. 1 19 f. In the end, however, this dying is itself 
the older element, and the emasculation or caftration, both of the god 
of procreation himself and of his priefts, denotes only a kind of death; 
for the death and coming back to life of the genii of fruitfulness is a 
very widespread conception. Thus it appears as quite natural in the 
case, too, of these two Indian godheads of the sexual life. Further- 
more I of course hold the passages in the Epic where phallus-worship 
is referred to to be late. This worship itself is likewise in India of very 
great antiquity. 

[From Melanesia the tale of the phallic snake Pauravisia given in 
G. C. Wheeler, Mono-Alu Folklore, Lond., 1926, p. 37 f., 201 f. 
has certain points of likeness with these Qiva and Parvati myths. 



Woman as Wife 

IF the man in the Old Indian Epic in his life of love, in spite 
of many beautiful exceptions, and in spite of the noble, 
often-pressed view that the man mu^ be as chafte as the woman, 
nay, that his duty is even to surpass her, the weaker vessel, in 
this virtue also — if in spite of this he adlually felt himself 
evidently very free, yet for the woman on the other hand 
there was a far ftri<fler moral law : it was only as a wife that 
she had any real right to the joys of love ; it is only for the wife 
that life has worth, and it is only the wife that has any worth 
for life, that has a right to life and its gifts. For the maid also 
is, above all, a wife, even if it is firmly the future wife ; she 
is but a pledge entru^ed by the Maker, which the father mu^ 
carefully keep for the husband to be (i, 157.35). On 
woman as wife, therefore, falls the fullest and mo^ 
wonderful glory of the noble^ Indian poetry, especially of the 
Epic. Figures such as DamayantI and Savitrl will " have 
undying life ", for they also " were made by the heart ", not 
by the mere selfishness of the man, setting a pattern before the 
woman only for his own advantage and good, as Finck, for 
in^ance, believes. The Epic is filled with the praise and the 
examples of womanhood faithful in wedlock ; and from the 
two mighty poems there could be gathered a colleftion of such 
pidlurcs, great and small, of Old Indian women, and one by no 
means lacking in variety. 

And thus (^akuntala speaks (i, 74.40 ff.) : " She is a wife 
who is skilful in the house ; she is a wife who has children ; 
she is a wife whose life is her husband ; she is a wife who keeps 
a holy troth with her husband. The wife is the half of a man ; 
the wife is the heii friend of all ; the wife is the root of the three 
ends of life ^ ; the wife is the root of what will save 

^ Cp. e.g. xiv, 90.47, 48. And so times beyond count in Indian 

Woman as Wife 

there. ^ He that has a wife accomplishes deeds ^ ; he that has a 
wife is a householder ; he that has a wife has joy ; he that has a 
wife is accompanied by happiness. They are the friends that in 
loneliness speak of love, fathers at the calls of duty, mothers for 
him that suffers, re^ even in the wilds of the foresl: for the way- 
wearied wanderer. He that has a wife finds truft ^ ; therefore 
the wife is the sure^ refuge. Even when the husband crosses 
over into another birth, when he dies, hurries along rough 
paths alone, the faithful mate follows ever after him. If the 
wife has died fir^ and gone away, then she awaits her husband, 
and the good woman follows the husband that has died fir^ 
(pac^at sadhvy anugacchati). For this reason it is that a man 
wishes to marry, that the ma^er may have a wife in this world 
and the other. The self begotten by the self is by the wise called 
'son '.* Therefore let the man look on his wife, the mother 
of his son, as his own mother. As does the doer of good deeds 
when he comes into heaven, so does the begetter feel comfort 
within him when he beholds the son, begotten by him in his 
wife's womb, as it were his own countenance in the glass. 
If the man is burning in sorrows of the soul, and is sick with 
bodily ills, then does he find comfort by his wife, as he that is 
tortured with heat does in water. Even the man in the clutches 
of hot rage will do nothing harsh to women, if he considers 
that on them depend the pleasures of love, joy, and what is 
good. As the field on which the self grows up, women are an 
ever-holy thing ^ ; for what power have even the Rishis to 
produce children without a woman ! " — Over and over again 
the wife is called the friend, the friend determined by fate, the 
be^ among friends, and so on. So in iii, 313.72, cp. 9I. 63-64 ; 

^ Above all in the other world. Less likely : of him that wishes to 
sail across (across all kinds of harm, especially that threatening in the 
other world). 

^ Or : the religious celebrations. 

3 That is, he is worthy of truft (vigvasya) ; but here rather : he 
can find consolation and courage (through his wife, of course). 

* Often in the MBh. as elsewhere. Hartland, Prim. Paternity, i, 
195 if. ; 208, and others, take this literally ! 

^ Or : Women are the holy (pure) everlafting field of the birth 
of the self. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

iv, 2.17. No friend is like her ; she is the be^ herb of healing 
for him that suffers (iii, 61.29, 3o)- In this meaning Hkewise, 
not only in the erotic or culinary, she belongs to the care of the 
body (q:arlrayatrakriti, xiii, 145.13). An abundance of earthly 
goods, lading health, and a beloved sweet-spoken wife, and an 
obedient son, and knowledge that fulfils its end ^ — these are 
the six blessings of the world of mankind (v, 33.82).^ In the 
good wife the three goals of life, which otherwise are endlessly 
at feud, are at one together (iii, 313.102) ; on the wife, indeed, 
this trinity depends, as, too, dutiful service, the propagation of 
the family, the good (dharma) of the forefathers and of the 
self (of the man, xiv, 90.47, 48), which is felt in the world 
beyond. The good wife is not only joy and peace, but house 
and home, too. Thus the anxious bird-husband whose wife 
does not come home in the evening calls out (xii, 144.3 ^0 • 
" There was a heavy rain with ^rong wind, and my loved one 
does not come. Why is it that she does not yet come back .? 
I wonder if it is well with my darling in the fores!:. Without the 
wife the house of one dwelling in it is utterly empty, even if 
it swarms all over with sons, grandsons, daughters-in-law,^ 
and servants. It is not the house that is called house, it is the 
mi^ress that is the house ; but a house without the mi^ress 
is the same as the lonely foreft. If this darling of mine with the 
round eye-margins, the lovely body, and the sweet voice does not 
now come, then I have nothing left in life. She, the fteadfa^ in 
virtue, who eats not before I have eaten, bathes not before I 
have bathed, stands not unless I ^and, lies to re^ only when 
I lie, she is not glad if I am not glad, she frets if I am fretting ; 
if I am away on a journey, then her face is mournful, and if 
I am angered, then she speaks sweet words. True to her 
husband, devoted to her husband as to her one refuge, finding 
her delight in that which is dear and wholesome for the 
husband — he who has a wife such as this, that man is blessed 

^ Or : that is of some use (arthakari). 

2 Like other truly wise men, this one, therefore, could not reckon 

^ Vadhu " daughter-in-law " is often found in the MBh. (e.g. 
i, 106. 1, 22 (cf. 13); 177. 1 1 ff. ; 212.16; ii, 72.27 ; iii, 280.60 ; 
296.28; 298.9; V, 37.5; xii, 228.96; xiv, 90.67, 80). 

Woman as Wife 

on earth. For the dutiful one knows when I am wearied and 
racked by hunger — filled with heartfelt affedion, ever attached 
to me by love, and tender is my glorious one. He for whom a 
beloved wife lives, he has a home there, even if it be only on the 
root of a tree ; even a palace without her is a wilderness, that 
I am convinced of. Whether it be the time for fulfilling a pious 
duty, or for acquiring worldly goods, or for love, man's comrade 
is his wife ; and if he muft go abroad, then she beftows solace 
and tru^ on him. For the wife is called here on earth the higheil 
gift of happiness,^ the mate of the mateless on life's way.^ 
Even so for the man laid low by sickness and ever suffering, for 
the afflifted one, there is no healing like his wife. There is no 
kinsman like the wife, no comrade in the world like the wife, 
where it is sought to win pious merit. He that in his house has 
no good and sweet-speaking wife, let him but go into the lonely 
foreft ; his house is as the lonely fore^l: " (xii, 144.3 ^•)'^ 
In harmony with ideals such as these, even tender daughters of 
kings, like Draupadi and DamayantI, used to the moft delicate 
luxury, go into wretchedness along with their husbands who 
have come to grief through their own fault ; and the queen 
herself faithfully follows her lord, who has been changed into 
a man-eating monger, on his wanderings through forest and 
wilderness (i, 182.6 ff.). 

^ Or : the highe^ end (the higheft thing, artha). 

2 Or : the pilgrimage through the world (lokayatra) ; cp. tirtha- 
yatra, and Ram., ii, 109.27, where the word has probably the same 
meaning; also MBh., v, 192.33; xiii, 13. i ; as also e.g. Manu, 
iv, 242. 

2 As againft these passages (to which many could be added from 
Indian literature) there are many bitter attacks also to be found : 
such is the verse in an ascetic didaftic discourse which calls wife and 
child leeches (xii, 301.70). Then in one of the many ftrophes of the 
MBh. preaching unlimited individualism, we find : " The wife is all- 
devouring wear and tear (jara), the son but a seed, the brother a foe, 
the friend only something to give gifts to (klinnapani, elsewhere also 
ardrapani in the Epic), only the self is the enjoyer of pleasure and pain 
(xii, 139.30). The evils that come towards the end of the world are 
also to be seen from the fa6^ that men take their wives as friends (iii, 
190.19, 20). They cannot find or value anything better, and women's 
respeft is gone. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Terribly hard and noble beyond words is the task of the good 
woman already as a daughter, and ftill more so as a wife, as is 
explained in iii, 205 ff. "Then did King Yudhishthira put to 
the famous and mighty Markandeyaa queftion on virtue, right 
hard to decide (dharmapra^nam sudurvi dam). ' I would fain 
hear set forth by thee in its true nature the nobility and dignity 
of women, this thing above all others, fair, and holy and good 
(dharmya). Clearly before us we see here, O prieftly Rishi, the 
gods, the sun, the moon, the wind, the earth, and fire, O he{\: 
one, and father and mother, O holy one, and the teacher, O 
be^ one, and whatever else there is, that which has been created, 
that, too, O son of Bhrigu. All persons of landing especially 
muft be given honour, and then those women who know only 
one man ; the obedience of faithful wives seems to me a hard 
thing. Do thou, my lord, set forth to us the high dignity of 
faithful wives that keep a check on the ho^ of the senses, and 
a restraint on the heart, and ever bethink themselves of their 
husband, as of a god. O lord, thou glorious one, this seems to 
me a heavy task. Wornen, O twice-born one, are obedient 
to mother and father and husband. Compared with the so 
awe-inspiring duty and virtue (dharmat sughorat) of women, 
there is, indeed, so far as I can see, none other whatever that is 
burdensome. For it is with virtuous ways, and ever attentive, 
that women have their work to do ; truly they have a heavy 
task towards father and mother ^ ; and the women, too, who 
know only a husband, and who speak the truth, and who carry 
the fruit in their body for ten months, and so live beside death — 
what could there be that is more wonderful ? And women 
come into the utmo^ danger and pain beyond compare, and so 

^ In a literal translation 9I. 9 is perhaps to be thus combined with 
what is before : (heavy, compared, that is to say, with that) which good 
women do who lead a good life, and are ever attentive. Or less likely, 
taken together with 9b : what . . . do, they have a heavy task 
therewith towards father and mother. Kri with the accus. of the person 
= do, do towards, treat, handle, is often found in the Epic. So vi, 
79.6; vi, 64.16 f . ; vii, 21. i ; viii, 68.23; xii, 175.5; Ram., iv, 
5.30; cp. MBh., vii, 12.3; Ram., iv, 18.47: tatrapi khalu mam 
doshain kartum narhasi, Raghava " therein also thou mu^ see no 
blame for me ". 


Woman as Wife 

bear their children in great torment, O my lord, and rear them 
with true and tender love, O bull among the twice-born. And 
they, living amidol: all the cruel conditions,^ looked on with 
loathing, fulfil their duty always — this I deem to be a hard 
thing. Show unto me, O twice-born one, the true essence of 
their way of life, based on that of warriors and with warriors' 
duties ; hard to attain to, O Brahman, is the virtue of the very 
glorious ones because of (all) the malice (cruelty). ^ As to this I 
would fain hear, holy and augufi: one, as to this que^ion, thou 
mo^ excellent of those wise in que^ions, foremo^ of the race 
of Bhrigu. I am hearkening unto thee, thou pious man.' 
Markandeya spoke : ' 'Tis well, I will enlighten thee according 
to the truth on this que^ion, which is very hard to explain. 
Hearken unto it from me, while I speak of it. Some grant the 
greater resped: to the mothers, others to the fathers.^ The 
mother, who brings up the children, carries through a heavy 
task. Through asceticism, sacrifices to the gods, worship, 
patience, magic, and other means the fathers seek to get sons. 
When thus they have won the son, so hard to obtain, then they 
are ever thinking, O hero, what kind of man he will become. 
For the father and mother hope from their sons for fame, glory, 
and power, offspring, and religious merit, O child of the 

^ Or : " men " (krureshu sarveshu) } 

2 Note that the whole extraft deals with the mahatmya, the glory of 
woman, and that the text speaks much of all the cruelty (or baseness, 
nri^amsa) that works again^ women on earth. My rendering, there- 
fore, fits in excellently with the context and with the truth and reality. 
The child-bearing woman and the warrior are especially linked 
together in the popular mind in other parts of the world also. Here 
samacara can be taken either as sam or as sama -|- Scara ; the genit. 
mahatmanam probably refers back to the hrii half of the ^loka. From 
the point of view of the language the moft obvious, indeed, would be : 
" Show unto me the true essence of the way of duty of the Ksliattriyas ; 
the virtue of the high-souled is for the lowly man hard to win." But 
then we should here have to rejeft the whole ^loka. Kshettra could also 
be read inftead of kshattra, and " fruitful field " be put = wife. 
But for all that this idea is very usual, yet there are some difficulties 
here about the matter (xii, 205.14). 

^ More literally : Some from the ftandpoint of the venerable have 
been on the mothers' side, others on the fathers' side. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Bharatas. He that lets their hope bear fruit is one with a know- 
ledge of duty, and he from whom the father and mother have 
ever joy, O ruler above kings, has here in this life and after death 
fame and everla^ing virtuous merit ; no sacrificial deeds, no 
gifts to forefathers, no facing is like this.^ But through 

^ So, if naivam were read for naiva. But after all it is better to 
keep to naiva, and to join gl. 22b with 22a : (" For the woman) there 
is (is of avail) neither any sacrifice, nor gift to the dead, nor facing, 
but through obedience towards her husband she wins heaven." This 
reading is the more likely in that this saying with fixed variations 
is often found. So, for inftance, Vishnusmiriti, xxv, 1 5 : 

Nafti ftrinarn prithagyajno, na vratam napy uposhitam ; 

Patim 9U9rushate yat tu tena svarge mahiyate. 
Markandeyapurana, xvi, 61 : 

Na^ ftrinam prithagyajno, na ^raddham napy uposhitam ; 

Bhatri9U9rushayaivaitan lokan ishtan vrajanti hi. 

Cp. e.g. MBh.,i, 158.24 ; xiii, 8.20 ; 40.11 f; 59.29. 

On prithagyajno there is a ftrong ftress, and even in the house the 
woman according to her landing in law has no importance at all in 
herself. The woman throughout her life is dependent, and therefore 
also she is not entitled to hold property, as is often laid down. In 
childhood she is under the rule and protedion of her father, in the 
flower of her age under her husband's, and if the husband is dead, 
under her sons'. She can never enjoy freedom to dispose of herself. 
See e.g. Manu, v, 147 f. ; Vas., v, 1-2 ; Yajnav., i, 85 ; Narada, 
xiii, 28—31 ; Vishnu, xxv, 12-13 ! Mahanirvanat., viii, 106 ; Baudh., 
ii, 2, 3.44. In the laft two passages the well-known pronouncement 
is found in immediate connexion : " Through obedience to her husband 
she wins heaven." And for the gods also she is only a — woman. 
Only together with her husband can she do pious works, only together 
with her husband can she come into paradise. And there, too, the 
ftone wall ^ares before her with the flaming inscription : Asvatantri 
dharme ^ri " The woman has no independence in virtue, religion, 
or law " (Gautama, xviii, i). It is only over the gates of hell that for 
the Indian woman who may thirit for freedom there ftands the 
direft opposite of those famous words of Dante. Bitterly, but 
with truth Ramabai Sarasvati calls out : " The only place where she can 
be independent of him is in hell " {The High CaHe Hindu Woman, 
p. 41). So the woman muft not go on a pilgrimage either ; her 
place of pilgrimage is her husband, and good works are done at home. 
Mahanirvanatantra, viii, 100 f Cp. here the splendid words of the 

Woman as Wife 

obedience towards her husband — through this she wins heaven. 
As to that which relates to this chapter, O King Yudhishthira, 
with heed hear then of the firm-set virtue of faithful wives. 
There was one mo^ excellent among the twice-born, given up 
to Veda ^udy, rich in penance, of virtuous charadler, 
Kau^ika his name, O child of the Bharatas. The be^ among the 
twice-born ^udied the Vedas, together with the knowledge 
helpful to them and the Upanishads. (Once) he was by the root 
of a tree, repeating the Veda aloud. Up in the tree a hen-crane had 
perched, and let its droppings fall on the Brahman. When the 
angrytwice-bornonesawher,he cursedherin his thoughts. With 
the eye of the hotly angered Brahman on her, and cursed in his 
heart, the hen-crane fell down onto the ground. When the 
twice-born one saw her lying there, lifeless, and bereft of con- 
sciousness, he bewailed her, seized with a burning pain through 
pity : " I have done evil, overcome by anger and passion." 
So spoke the wise one many times, and then went into the village 
to beg, calling on the pure families in the village, O bull among 
the Bharatas. When now he came into a house, where he had 
already visited before, and made request " Give ", the woman 
said to him : " Wait." While the lady of the house was now 
seeing to the cleaning of the crockery, her husband suddenly 
came in with the pangs of hunger on him, O be^ of the Bharatas. 
And when the good wife saw her lord, she left the Brahman 
landing there unheeded, and handed her husband water for 
washing the feet and rinsing the mouth, and a seat, and 
reverently did the black-eyed one then wait on her husband, 
with very delicious food, hard and soft ; what her husband 
left over she was wont to eat, she with the pure soul, O 
Yudhishthira. And she looked on her lord as a god, fitting herself 
to her husband's thoughts ; in deeds, thoughts, and words she 
took her course from her husband alone, not giving a thought 
to any other, devoted to him with all her being and life, finding 

wonderful Berthold von Regensburg, which I have given in the note 
on Dagakumarac, p. 50. In the same way as Berthold, and as Luther 
in his epi^Ie to the nobles, Mahanirvanat. (viii, 97 ff.) and Baudha- 
yana, ii, 3.16, as also Manu, xi, 10 condemn pilgrimages to holy 
places, and pious works in general, if thereby a man in any way ^nts 
his family. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

her pleasure in obedience to him, leading a good life, pure, 
adive, and skilful, thinking always of her family's welfare. 
And whatever was wholesome for her husband, that she lived 
for always, ever taken up with the humble service of the gods, 
gue^s, and servants, as, too, of her mother-in-law and father- 
in-law, and ever with a bridle on her senses. While now the 
bright-eyed one was giving obedient service to her husband, 
she saw the Brahman landing and asking for alms, and 
bethought herself of him. ^ The good woman was then taken 
with shame, O beft among the Bharatas, took alms for the 
Brahman, and went out, the glorious one. The Brahman spoke : 
' What does this mean ? " Wait " thou did^ tell me, O fair 
lady, and then keep me to my loss and not send me away.' 
Markandeya spoke : ' When the good woman saw the 
Brahman, aflame with anger, flare up, as it were in a mighty 
fire, soothingly she said these words to him : " I beg thee, 
forgive me, O wise one ! My husband is my great godhead. 
And he arrived hungry and weary, and therefore was waited on 
by me." The Brahman spoke : " Thou didft not hold the 
Brahmans as being more worshipful, thou did^ hold thy husband 
as more worshipful ; although thou live^ in householder's 
rank, thou do^ despise the Brahmans. Even Indra bows him- 
self before them. How much the more so a human being on 
earth ! Thou haughty one, do^ thou not know and haft thou 
not heard from the old that the Brahmans are like fire, and 
could burn up even the earth ! " The woman spoke : " I am 
no hen-crane, O Brahmanic Rishi. Put away thine anger, O 
thou rich in asceticism. What wouldft do, angry one, to me 
with this angry look ? I do not despise the Brahmans, those 
wise ones, like unto the gods. Do thou forgive me this slight, 
thou blameless one. I know the greatness of the Brahmans, 
for by the anger of the Munis of ju^ such glowing asceticism 

1 Perhaps I should have kept, however, to my firft version : " And 
what was wholesome for her husband, for the gods, the gue^s, the ser- 
vants, and for her mother-in-law and father-in-law, this she lived for 
always. While she that ftrove only and always for obedience, and had 
always her senses bridled, she the bright-eyed one, was carrying on the 
service of her husband, she saw the Brahman," and so on. 


Woman as Wife 

and purified soul,^ of the Munis, whose fiery anger is ^ill 
to-day unquenched in the Dandai<a fore^ ^ — by their anger was 
the sea made undrinkable and salt-watered. Because the very 
evil-minded Vatapi harmed the Brahmans, the cruel and huge 
Asura, when he came to the Rishi Agaftya, was eaten up and 
destroyed. We are told of many mighty doings of the Brahmans, 
the high and glorious ones. Full of power is the anger of the 
high-souled ones, and their favour, O Brahman. But this 
offence, O Brahman, thou without fault, do thou forgive unto 
me. The virtue arising out of obedience to the husband is 
pleasing to me, O twice-born one. Among even all the 
divinities my husband is the highe^ for me. In all circum^ances 
I would fain fulfil my duty to him. See, O Brahman, what the 
fruit is of faithful service to the husband : Thou did^ burn 
up the hen-crane out of anger ; that I know. Anger is a foe 
to man that dwells in his (own) body, O beft of Brahmans. He 
that puts anger and blindness behind him is known by the gods 
as a Brahman. He on this earth that always speaks the truth, 
and makes those worthy of respedl content, and, if he is harmed, 
does no harm, him the gods know as a Brahman. He that has 
overcome the senses, is given up to virtue, finds his delight in 
holy ^udy, is pure, and has love and anger under his sway, him 
the gods know as a Brahman. He to whom the world is as his 
own self, he that knows the good, and is wise, and finds his 
joy in all the virtues, him the gods know as a Brahman." 
She then explains ^ill further to him what virtue is, and how 
little he under^ands about it, and sends him to Mithila to 
the pious butcher that the Brahman may learn it from him 
(iii, 205, 206).^ Cp. especially MBh., K, xiii, 249.16 ff., 
a kind of Martha and Mary tale. 

^ Or : For in this same way the sea became undrinkable, salt-watered 
through the anger of the Munis of shining asceticism, etc. Cp. with 
this passage Manu, ix, 314, and Biihler's note, SBE, xxv, p. 398; 
as also MBh., xii, 342.61 f. ; xiii, 34.27 ; i$i. 17 ; i53-7» U- 

2 The Epic, too, tells this tale, which was remodelled as a motive 
by the Buddhi<ts and the Jains. See Ram., vii, 80 f. 

3 This talc, as also that of Dharmavyadha, is also in the 56th Tar. 
of the Kathasarits., and separately in the Parrot Book (Rosen, 
Tutinameh, ii, 232 ; ZDMG, xxi, 543). Cp. ^ukas., Introd. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

So, too, the Brahman Uttanka cannot even see the faithful 
wife of King Paushya, and thinks he is being tricked by the 
ruler, as being he that brought him to her ; because of this 
virtue she is invisible to anyone that is not w^holly pure, and the 
holy man in the ha^e of his journey in the morning has forgotten 
to carry out the ritual purification (i, 3.101 ff.). " The charity 
and goodness of a woman brings all knowledge, it has power over 
life and death, heaven and hell. Utterances such as the 
touchingly simple one in Ram., vi, 1 1 1.67 : ' It is not in vain 
that the tears of faithful wives fall to earth ' are tame indeed 
compared with what, as is well known, we so often find." ^ 
For a faithful wife is a sin-cancelling means of grace (tirtha), 
juft as much as asceticism, etc. MBh.K, xiv, 118.8 ff. 

Very frequent in Indian literature, and often found in the 
Epic also, is the " ad of truth ", especially in the case of pure 
wives. In later Hindu tales this is, indeed, often undertaken 
without good reason.^ But the Epic knows nothing of cynical 
je^s such as these. Thus, for in^ance, Sita also prote^s her 
obedience and her faithfulness to Rama, and so forces the fire 
on Hanumant's tail, in spite of all its glow, to be quite cold 
(Ram., v, 53.25 ff.). 

But above all it is of course in the beyond that the faithful wife 
is rewarded. She goes into the world of her husband (xiv, 20.4) ; 
there are, indeed, various worlds, the highest heavens of the 
pious, that are seen only by Brahma, holy Rishis, Brahmans 
with a pure spirit, and faithful wives, and which are for ever 
shut even to the eyes of the king of the gods (xiii, 73.2 ff.). 
Nay, more : Far away beyond the heaven of those that are 
absorbed in holy meditation (brahmasattrim) lies the world of 

1 Dandin's Da9akumarac., p. 40. Cp. e.g. in Tawney's Kathako^a, 
the tale of Davadanti, p. 191; fF., espec. 207 ; Prabandhacint., p. 64 ; 
Bhojaprabandha, ed. Vidyasagara, p. 90; Mark.-Pur., xvi, 27 ff. 
(faithful wife itops the sun from rising) ; etc. 

2 Cp.. the case referred to by me in Dagakum., p. 40, where the 
80,000 wives of the king along with all the women of the city cannot 
bring a dead elephant back to life again (Kathas.,Tar. 36), and with that 
Rajatar., i, 318. Schiefner, Btilletin de VAcad. Imp. des Sciences 
de St.-Petersbourg, vol. 21, col. 479 ; J. J. Meyer, Isoldes Gottesurteil 
(Berlin, 1914), p. 277 f (note 176). 

Woman as Wife 

faithful wives ; beyond that again lies only the formless, the 
domain of ultimate being, ix, 50.41-48. 

It is truly not made very easy for the woman of Old India to 
win for herself the name of a true and seemly wife. That has 
already been seen from much that has been ^ated. Here we 
give a few special passages. " This only is what the good call 
the olde^ law : what the husband says to the wife, whether 
right or wrong, that she muft do exadly ; thus do the 
knowers of the holy knowledge know " (i, 122.27, ^^)- " This 
is the highe^ and everla^ing task of the woman in the world, 
that she do all that is beft for her husband, even at the co^ of 
her life " (i, 158.4). " Truth, and the joy of love, and heaven 
won by excellence, and whatever is wished for is for women 
dependent on the husband. Men^ruation (which is needful 
for conception) comes from the mother, the seed from the 
father, the highe^ god is the husband ; through the husband 
the goal of life for women, made up of the pleasures of love and 
children, is thus reached " (xiv, 90.50 ff.). " But the husband, 
be he virtuous or not, is for those women that heed the moral 
good the visible godhead " (Ram., ii, 62.8). See also MBh., 
xii, 145.3 ff- Anasuya says in Ram., ii, 117.22 ff. : "Thy 
kinsfolk, O Sita, thou rich in honour, and honour and prosperity 
thou ha^ left behind, and followed Rama banished in the fore^. 
Good fortune be thine ! Those women whose husband 
is dearly loved, whether he live in city or forest, be he good or 
bad, theirs are the worlds of high happiness. For women of 
noble charafter the husband is the highest godhead, although he 
have a bad character, or live after his lu^s, or be bereft of worldly 
goods." ^ Thus, too, her lord is more for the wife than her own 
child. Arj Una's wife, Citrarigada, whom her hero-husband has 
made, indeed, with child, but soon left,- believes her lord and her son 

^ In the following sarga Sita expresses her whole-hearted agreement, 
and lays ^ress on the doctrine often found that the woman's tapas 
is wholly and alone obedience to her husband. 

2 I had firil written : " twice made with child." But in spite of 
Jacobi also in his Mahabharata so taking it, it is wrong. Arj una leaves 
C, when she has become with child by him (21 15.27), and goes forth 
adventuring. Then he comes back for a short and laft visit, and he 
finds there (217.23 ff.) the son who has meanwhile been born. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

are dead, and is ready to let the son be lo^, but not her husband, 
and wishes to see him called back to life ; " for this friendship 
has been made everla^ing and imperishable by the creator " 
(xiv, 80.15). And in the Ramayana (ii, 39.29-30) it is said : 
" Without a ^ring there is no lute, without a wheel no chariot, 
without a husband no woman is happy, even though she have a 
hundred sons. For what the father gives has bounds, what the 
brother gives has bounds, what the son gives has bounds ; 
but him that gives the unbounded, the husband, what wife 
should not honour him ! " ^ 

Like many another god, so this god of the wife was 
particularly great at asking. Above all the holy men in this also 
showed their very famous — holiness. Jaratkaru, who sees his 
forbears hanging in the cave, resolves therefore to get married 
to save them, and at length in spite of his ftrange demands 
finds a wife, the snake fay Jaratkaru, in fadt, Vasuki's si^er, 
and lives after the wedding in his brother-in-law's palace amid 
great splendour and magnificence. " There the be^ one made 
this covenant with his wife : ' Thou mu^ never do or utter 
anything that is unpleasing to me. If anything unpleasing 
happened to me, then I should sever myself from thee and no 
longer dwell in thy house. Take what I have spoken unto 
thine heart.' Then did the much afeared sifter of the prince of 
snakes speak unto him these words in exceeding great sorrow : 
' Thus shall it be.' And ftriftly thus (as was agreed) did she 
wait on her husband in ways that are as rare as white crows, . 
for the glorious one yearned to offer him what was pleasing. 

Babhruvahana, whom he " had begotten with her " (or " begot ", 
9I. 24). The context in the la^-named passage, and various other 
circumsT^ances force us to this reading. 

1 So, too, MBh., xii, 148.6,7. Cp. e.g. iii, 234.3. A woman 
in Bhoja's capital was holding her sleeping husband on her lap, and 
her small child crawled into the fire. So as not to awake her lord, 
she sat b1:ill, but besought Agni for the sake of her faithfulness to her 
husband not to burn the child. It was done as she begged. When the 
man woke up, she quickly took out the child, who was sitting smihng 
in the flames (Bhojaprab., ed. Vidyasagara, p. 90). The woman left 
by her husband has fallen from the world of holiness and of salvation 
(punya^hana), and cannot come into heaven (iii, 230.3, 5). 

Woman as Wife 

Now once when Vasuki's si^er had juft bathed herself at the 
time of her courses, she approached, as is seemly, her husband, 
the great Muni. Then there came into being in her a fruit 
of the body like unto fire, exceedingly endowed with brightness, 
full of light as the god of flames. As the moon in the bright 
half of the month, even so did this fruit grow. A few days later 
the greatly famed Jaratkaru was lying wearied asleep, having 
laid his head on her lap. And as this prince among Brahmans 
slept, the sun came to the mountain of its setting. As the day 
was now about to vanish, the wise si^er of Vasuki thought to 
herself, filled with a dread of the holy law being broken : 
' What would be a good deed for me : to wake my husband, 
or not ? For he with the soul of virtue is angry-minded. How 
shall I do so as not to give him offence. Either the man of 
virtuous charadler will be angered, or he will break the holy 
law. The breaking of the holy law would be, indeed, of greater 
moment.' So she came to a decision. ' If I awake him, he will 
certainly fall into a rage. But he will inevitably fall into breaking 
the holy law, if he misses the twilight prayer.' ^ So soon as the 
snake fay Jaratkaru had thus decided in her mind, the sweet- 
speaking one spoke the following gentle words to this Rishi 
of flaming asceticism, to him like fire, who was lying 
there asleep : ' Arise, O high and glorious one ; the sun is 
setting. Perform thou the evening worship, O auguft one, as a 
ftrait observer of religious duty, having carried out the washing. 
The sweet and awful moment has come that brings the fiery 
sacrifice v/ith it.- The evening twilight is now coming up in 
the we^, O lord.' Thus addressed, the holy and auguft 
Jaratkaru, the mighty one in penance, spoke these words to his 
wife, with quivering lips : ' Hereby thou haft slighted me, 
O snake fay. I will no longer live with thee ; I will go thither 
whence I came. The sun has no power to set at its usual time, 
if I am asleep, O thou with the lovely thighs ; so I know in my 
heart. But none would choose to dwell here, having been 
slighted ; how much less would I, the man of virtuous charader, 
or one of my kind.' Thus addressed by her husband with words 

1 See J. j. Meyer, Altind. Hechtsschr., the passages under " Dam- 
merungsandacht ". 

2 Literally : into view. 

N 353 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

that set her heart quaking, Jaratkaru, Vasuki's si^cr, spoke 
there in his abode : ' It was not out of slighting scorn, O 
Brahman, that I awoke thee. I did so that thou might^ not 
become guilty of any offence again^ the holy law.' Thus 
addressed, he spoke to his wife, he the great penitent 
Jaratkaru, the Rishi overcome by anger, who wished to leave 
the snake fay : ' My tongue has never yet spoken an untruth. 
I shall go, O snake fay. This mutual agreement I made with 
thee before. I have dwelt here pleasantly, my dear one. Tell 
thy brother, thou good one, when I have gone hence, thou 
timid one : " The holy man has gone." And thou thyself have 
no care, when I have gone away.' Thus addressed, she of the 
faultless limbs now spoke to the Muni, to Jaratkaru, she 
Jaratkaru with the lovely hips, sunk in sorrow and pain, with 
tear-^ifled voice, parched mouth, hands folded before the fore- 
head, and eyes wet with tears, as she with the lovely thighs 
firmly gathered up all her courage, while her heart shivered — 
she spoke : ' I beg thee, thou with the knowledge of virtue, 
do not leave me who am guiltless, thou that abided ever in the 
holy law leave not me who abide ever in the holy law, who find 
my delight always in what is pleasing and wholesome for 
thee.' " She implored him to ^ay, since for the welfare of her 
kindred and of the world of the snakes she muft fir^ have a son 
by him. But he assured her that the fruit of her body already 
conceived would be a fire-like Rishi, mighty in knowledge, and 
he went away (i, 47). 

Like him in holiness, penitential might, and irritability was 
the great Muni Jamadagni, and at the same time a ma^er of 
bowmanship. " Once the holy man, the Bhrigus' son, was 
amusing himself by fixing and then shooting one arrow after 
another. These shining, flaming arrows, shot off by him were 
brought back again in quick succession by Renuka (his wife), 
and given to him. At the sound of the bow-ftring and the arrows 
he was joyfully stirred, and went on shooting, and she brought 
them back again to him. Then, when the sun, now in the 
summer month of Jyeshtha, had climbed the heights of midday, 
the Brahman who had sent forth the arrows said these words to 
Renuka : ' Go, big-eyed one, and bring hither those arrows 
that have sped from the bow, that I may shoot them off again 


Woman as Wife 

at once, O thou with the lovely brows.' On her way thither 
the glorious one went into the shade under a tree, for her head 
and her feet were burning hot. But when she had been standing 
a moment, the pure, the black-eyed one went on her way, 
fearing her husband's curse, to fetch back the arrows ; and the 
shining one came back with the arrows in her hand. Wearied, 
indeed, and keeping down her pain, she with the lovely limbs 
walked up to her husband, trembling with fear of him. Then the 
angry Rishi kept on saying these words to her with the shining 
face : ' Renuka, wherefore art thou so late in coming .? ' 
Renuka spoke : ' My head and feet are truly burning, O thou 
rich in asceticism ; being weighed down by the glow of the 
sun, I took shelter in the shadow of a tree. This is why, O 
Brahman, I took so long. Now that thou ha^ heard this, O lord, 
be not angered, O thou rich in penitence.' Jamadagni spoke : 
' Now will I shoot down him with the flaming beams who has 
brought pain on thee, O Renuka ; the sun god with my 
arrows by the fiery ^rength of the bolt ^ will I shoot 
down.' " The sun god, whether he likes it or no, now has 
to submit : he makes his appearance in the shape of a 
Brahman, and firft tries to show the angry man that the sun mu^ 
shine thus for the good of the world ; and when the ^ubborn 
fellow will not li^en, he soothes him with humble words 
and gestures, and gives him a pair of sandals, and a sunshade 
again^ the heat of the day-^ar. Thus did these two useful 
things originate. But whether the poor woman also had any 
service from them is not clear from the account, which, indeed, 
has for its objeft only to fire men on to give the Brahmans 
sunshade and sandals (xiii, 95, 96). But here, too, we are 
reminded of Dushyanta's words : " By patience with their 
husbands women reach the virtue of faithfulness " (K., i, 

Many, it is true, find it too much. A great number of the 
men of whom the Epic, too, tells us are mighty in asceticism ; 
the conquest of the senses then appears as the highe^ end. 
Woman wants love ; and she wants to see the man using 
his strength, even if it be savagely or even brutally, not in the 
pure ether where passion is not. "This old legend, too, is 
^ Of the arrow magic (aftra) ? 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

told, the discourse which was held between husband and 
wife. A Brahman woman spoke to a Brahman man who 
had reached the further shore of holy and worldly knowledge, 
and whom she saw sitting there alone, the wife spoke to the 
husband : ' Into which world (of heaven) shall I now come, 
who am allotted to thee as wife, to one that has ca^ aside all 
aftive work, and squats there, a ^upid, miserable wretch 
(kinaga) ? Wives come into the worlds made ready by their 
husbands, so we have been told. To what place shall I now 
go, who have fallen to thee as my husband ? ' " (xiv, 20. i ff.). 
See, too, how King Janaka of Videha who has become a monk 
is upbraided by his wife as one that has forgotten his duty 
(xii, 18). The wife of Dirghatama has to support him, but 
rids herself, as we saw, of a mafter who is in many respedls 
unpleasant (i, 104.30 ff.). From the holy Atri his wife 
runs away and cries out : " I will no longer be subjedl in any 
way to this Muni ! " (xiii, 14.95). How others, while keeping 
faithfully by the husband, yet give utterance to their discontent 
with him, of this we have already found an example in Draupadi. 
More will be said later. So also in the chapter on the ideal 
woman something more will be found on the relation of the 
wife to the husband. Here we give only three further 
examples of wedded faithfulness, (^acl is proverbial for her 
chaility, the wife of the woman-loving king of the gods. 
How she was put to a hard teii is told in v, 10 ff. Indra had 
slain Vritra, and thereby burdened himself with the guilt of 
Brahman-murder. He therefore crept away into the water 
at the edge of the world. The whole world suffered moft 
dreadfully, since now there was no Indra. The gods then 
appointed Nahusha, the pious gue^ of heaven, as his successor. 
But he now became an insolent ruffian, giving free rein to his 
lu^s. All the hosT:s of Apsarases and houris of the gods were 
not enough for him : as soon as he had seen (^aci he wanted 
her. The gods represented to him the shamefulness of touching 
another man's wife, but he made them remember that they 
had held their tongues quiet enough when Indra was raping 
Ahalya, and doing his other foul deeds. The poor harassed 
queen of heaven had at la^ to submit, and take herself 
in fear and trembling to the tyrant, and ask a respite of him. 

Woman as Wife 

She knew not at all, she said, what had become of her lord. 
Nahusha consented, and in tears she set about her search, 
calling after Indra, and through her womanly purity she 
managed it so that the goddess of oracles, Upac^ruti, showed 
herself to her in bodily shape, and took her northwards to the 
Himalaya, where in a great lake a mighty lotus-flower towered 
up. The two went into its ^alk, and there found Indra, 
who had taken on a slender, small shape, and hidden himself 
there, (^acl besought him to save her from shame. But 
he answered that Nahusha was too ^rong, and told her of a 
trick by which she should fool her lover. So she had to go 
back alone, and expose herself once more to the profaning 
looks and words of the burning lover. But the trick was 
successful, the bold rascal was overthrown, and the two rulers 
of the gods once more united (cp. xii, 342.28-53). 

Narada, the great seeker after new things in heaven and 
on earth, once goes forth together with his nephew on 
a very diverting ramble through the lands of the earth. They 
make the agreement that " whatever wish the one may have, 
he mu^ let the other know of it, be it good or evil ; otherwise 
the curse will light on him for an untruth ". They invite 
themselves as gue^s of King Srinjaya for an indefinite time. 
The king one day says : " I have a daughter with a fair face. 
She is my only girl. She shall wait on you. She is lovely 
to look on, with a faultless body, wholly given to virtuous 
ways, a tender maid, bright-shining as a filament of the lotus- 
flower." " That is a friendliness without compare," said 
the two. The king gave her his bidding : " Girl, wait on the 
two Brahmans, as though they were gods or thine own fathers." 
The maiden, she that lived after the law, said " Yes " to her 
father, and did honour and service to the two according to the 
king's bidding. Because of her service and her peerless beauty 
love came swift and sudden on Narada. And passion waxed 
in the heart of the high-souled one, as the moon waxes ftep 
by ^ep, when the bright half of the month has come. But 
for shame the knower of the law did not tell his nephew of 
this violent love of his, did not tell the high-souled Parvata." 
But Parvata noticed all, and on the close one put the curse of 
becoming an ape. Narada got his beloved one as wife, but the 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

curse was also fulfilled, and, indeed, diredlly after the wedding. 
But she loved him even thus, and kept ^ridl faith with him 
(xii, 30 ; cp. vii, 55). 

The king's daughter, Sukanya had aroused the anger of 
the old and ugly penitent Cyavana, and was given him to wife 
that he might forget his deadly wrath. The two A^vins 
saw her bathing unclad (kritabhishekarn vivritam), like a 
daughter of the ruler of the gods, and told her how foolish 
she was to wa^e her wonderful beauty and her blooming 
youth beside her withered old husband, who could not proteft 
or support her either ; she mu^ choose one of them for a 
husband. But she spoke : " I am content with my husband 
Cyavana ; do not, I beg you, believe such evil of me." Then 
these two physicians of the gods offered to make the old man 
a handsome youth ; then she should pick out one of the three 
for herself. All three dived into a pond, and came up in 
a moment exaftly alike in youth, beauty, and form. Each 
one shouted : " Choose me ! " But she with her mind and 
her heart ^ill found her husband out, and chose him (iii, 123),^ 
Cp. iv, 2 1. 1 0-14. 

1 Cp. Hopkins, " The Fountain of Youth," JAOS, 26, p. 44 ff. ; 
Crooke, Poful. Relig., etc., i, 59 f. ; Bhagavatapur., ix, 3.1 ff. 



Woman as Child-bearer : The Origin of Man 

ALL the virtues of the wife are ftill uncrowned if she 
beftows no children, especially no son, on the husband, 
as has already been said. The wife as a child-bearer, therefore, 
^ands fir^ and foremo^. What now does the Epic teach 
us as to procreation, pregnancy, and birth ? 

The juices ^ nourish the body of man through the networks 
of veins, wind, gall, mucus, blood, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, 
and marrow. It must be known that there are ten small 
tubes in it bringing their powers ^ to the five senses, and from 
them spread other small tubes in thousands. In this wise 
these veins — the rivers that here carry juic3S as water — feed 
the body's sea, each in its time, as the rivers feed the sea. And 
in the middle of the heart there is a vein Manovaha (the bearer 
of the manas, the appetitive and concept-building faculty 
of man), which sets free from all the limbs the seed of men, 
born of the yearning concept. For the veins that branch off 
into all the limbs have their outlet in it. Carrying the fiery 
matter,^ they run from and to the eyes. Ju^ as the butter 
that is in the milk is twirled out by the churn-^aff, so is the seed 

^ More precisely : food-juices (rasa, chyle). Cp. xii, 185.9. 

2 More literally : their con^ituent of ftrength, of energy ; or 
their element (gunam). Nil. = svasvavishayagrahanapatavarp. 

3 Or : the fiery part ; or : the light-element (taijasam gunam). 
Tejas is here probably to be taken in a twofold sense : firft, as light, 
for the eyes are the inftrument of seeing, which is dependent on light ; 
second, as fire, glow, passion, for from the eyes also, and from them 
fir^ of all, love and erotic excitement is born, as may be likewise 
read in Indian literature. It would be possible to take taijasam gunam 
= rajasam gunam = " carrying the material ingredient, passion 
(rajas)." " The senses are tejas-natured, that is, rajas-natured " 
(Saurapurana, xxi, 9). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

twirled out by the churn-^aff of the appetitive ideas in the 
body (dehasarnkalpajaih khajaih). And as in this wise even 
in sleep the passion born of the appetitive ideas of the manas 
breams hither, the manovaha discharges the seed from man's 
body that is produced through the appetitive idea.^ The 
great Rishi Atri, the holy and augu^ one, knows of this origin 
of the seed, which origin has three sources, and Indra for its 
god ; therefore, too, do we say indriya " (xii, 214.16 ff.).^ 

Yudhishthira spoke : " This ha^ thou shown, augu^ 
one, how merit by works follows. But I would fain know 
this other, how the seed is produced." Brihaspati spoke : 
" What the godheads that are in the body eat for nourishment, 
O lord of men : the earth, the wind, the ether, water, light, 
and the manas — when these five elements, with the manas 
as sixth, have become sated therewith, O prince of kings, then 
the seed is brought into being, the momentous seed,^ O man 
of the pure soul. From it then arises the fruit of the womb 
upon the union of woman and man, O prince. Thereby I 
have set forth all to thee. What would^ thou flill hear ? " 
Yudhishthira spoke : " Thou, holy man, ha^ told me how 

^ Or : And as in this wise even in sleep the passion born of the 
idea comes by way of the manas (the organ of perception, ideation, 
and desire), the manovaha sends (srijati) the seed born of the idea 
out of the body. This reading, however, seems to me not so good a 
one. The manovaha in its funffion of setting free the seed from all 
parts of the body is helped by the erotic feelings and ideas. There 
seems to be no thought here of the pouring forth of the seed. This 
Indian theory of the manovaha comes up again perhaps in the " Tavola 
ritonda ", which has many Eaftern elements in it : La infermita 
dello amore si ee in una vena la quale vae per mezzo lo cuore, cio^ 
che si muove dalla cima del cuore e gira tutte 1' altre circuftanzc del 
corpo ; sicche, essendo il cuore dello amadore trifto, dolenti e malin- 
conichi flanno tutti gli altri membri ; e perche la infermita dello 
amore e piu forte c piu e pericolosa di tutte 1' altre, tanto c piu acculta 
e nascosa (ed. F. L. Polidori, p. 250). See also Brihadaranyaka-Up., 
ii, 1.19 ; iv, 2.3 ; 3.2c; Chand.-Up., viii, 6.1— 2. 

^ " Indra-^rength," manly ^rength, seed. The three sources are : 
the food juice, the vein manovaha, and the idea (sarnkalpa). So tlie 
comm. rightly says. Cp. Aitareya-Up., ii, i ; Yajnav., iii, 71. 

^ This is hardly : in plenty (mahat). 


The Origin of Man 

the fruit of the womb comes into being. But how it is with 
the unborn Purusha ^ — let that be told." Brishaspati spoke : 
" The Purusha is but in the neighbourhood, and so is taken 
hold of by these elements (bhuta), and when separated from 
these elements, it goes again to another existence. Bound up 
with all the elements, it partakes (of a new embodiment) 
as an individual soul ; then the godheads dwelling in the five 
primary elements see its work (karman), be it good or bad. 
What wouldbl: thou hear further ? " Yudhishthira spoke : 
" When the individual soul has left skin, bones, and flesh, 
and is freed from these primary elements (bhuta), where does 
it then know pleasure and pain .'' " Brihaspati spoke ; " Bound 
up with the karman, it goes swiftly into seed-:slate (retaftva, 
^ate, or being, as seed), and then, after it has met the men^rual 
blood (pushpa) of women, is born at its time, O son of the 
Bharatas. Torment at the hands of Yama's servants, hurt 
at the hands of Yama's servants, and the painful wheel of the 
Sarnsaras — torment the human being goes through. And 
in this world here the living being from birth onwards, O lord 
of the earth, enjoys what good it has done by works, as a result 
of the fruit of merit through works " (xiii, 1 1 1.27 fF.). " Out 
of the idea arises sexual excitement " ; it arises also from the 
tone ; it arises also from the ta^e ; it arises also from the 
form (it arises also from the feeling with touch ; it arises also 
from the smell). Out of the seed mingled with the blood 
(of the woman) comes forth Rrii the Prana. When the seed 
has been altered by the Prana, then the Apana comes forth. 
It is formed out of the seed, and it is formed out of the menstrual 
fluid ; the pleasure aroused during union, that is the figure of 
the Udana. Out of the yearning of love is the seed born ; 
out of the seed is sexual passion born. But seed and blood 
had been brought into being in the same fashion, through the 
Samana (which dige^s the food), and the Vyana (which 

^ Probably we mu^ read yatha, which K also has. B has literally : 
" Thou ha^l set forth to me that the fruit of the womb thus comes 
into being." Purusha is the eternal Atman, the soul. Both texts have 
yatha jatas tu ; I join together to make yathajatas. 

2 Cp. xii, 163.8 : " Love springs from the idea (samkalpa)." 

N* 361 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

assimilates the food fluid) " (xiv, 24.5 ff.).i " How man, 
penetrated by his karman, filled with love and hate, comes 
into the mother's womb — hearken to this fully. The seed 
mingled with the blood (of the woman) which has come into 
the womb as holder, obtains thereby a field (abode, body), 
a good one or a bad, as his karman may bring. As a result of 
its tenuity and undeveloped ^ate, and if it, as a Brahman (in 
the word's true meaning) has attained to its wish (the redeeming 
knowledge), thereby it cleaves nowhere — the eternal Brahman 
(neuter). This is the source (bija) of all beings ; through 
this it is that creatures live. When this soul has penetrated 
all the limbs of the fruit of the womb, part by part, it at once 
gives it the gift of consciousness, taking up its place in the 
abodes of the breaths of life. Thereupon the fruit of the 
womb, endowed with consciousness, moves the limbs. ... As 
fire makes its way into the lump of iron, and brings it to glow 
all through, so do thou look on the soul's going into the fruit 
of the womb" (xiv, 18.4 flp.). Yayati spoke (to Ashtaka) : 
" He (he that takes on a body, that is, the soul) accompanies 
the tear-drop, the seed poured forth by the man, bound up 
with the fruit of the flower (with the karman) ; he meets her 
(the woman's) men^rual blood ; having become the embryo, 

^ Prana, Apana, etc., are the five " breaths of life ", in medicine 
forms of the wind, which is one of the three basic subiftances of the body, 
physiologically adive life-forces. The laft sentence is Deussen's 
translation {Fier philosophiscke Texte des Mahabharata, p. 918). 
After wreftling long with the here very illogical text I have resolved 
simply to give this again inftead of bringing up other possibilities. 
The Sanskrit text of the preceding sentence is : kamat sarnjayate 
9ukram, ^ukrat sarnjayate rajah. I have taken rajas = raga, as it is 
used, for inftance, in xii, 213.9-ro; 214.11-14. Materially the 
rendering is quite the right one. But here it does not fit properly. 
According to the context rajas should mean menftrual blood. But 
^ukrat ftands in the way of this. Deussen changes to kamat ; this is 
too violent- in the face of all three texts. Seed is also indeed ascribed 
to the woman juft as among the old Greeks and Romans ; therefore : 
" out of the (female seed) arises the menftrual blood } " Or : " as a 
consequence of the male seed (that is, because it exifts, and the woman 
yearns for it) the men^rual blood arises ? " This in meaning would 
= kamat. 


The Origin of Man 

he there goes in.i Into the trees, into the plants they (the 
souls) go, into the water, into the wind, into the earth, and into 
the air, into the four-footed and two-footed — into all 
things they go^ ; in such an exigence (evambhuta) they become 
embryos." Ashtaka spoke: "Does it (the soul) make for 
itself here another body (vapus), or does it make its way in 
its own body (kaya) into the womb, when it comes into human 
exigence ? Let me know of this ; I ask in doubt. In what 
way does it come unto the various bodies, and all else that grows,^ 
the eyes and ears, the consciousness ? Make known, thou 
that art put to the question, this whole matter ; we all^ hold 
thee for one that knows the field." Yayati spoke : " The 
wind at the time of the ritu carries the seed up to the womb, 
mingled with the men^rual fluid ; there it makes the embryo 
gradually to grow, wielding sway over the atoms. When 
the human being has now taken the material to himself, and is 
born, then he takes his place in his consciousness,-* and 
so hears sound with his ear, sees shapes with his eye, smells 
with his nose, and ta^es with his tongue, feels touch with 
his skin, and perceives his condition with the manas " 
(i, 90.10 flF.).^ "Thirty parts « there are according to the 
tradition. Where these all are found, there there is a body, 

1 Or : The seed bound up with the fruit of the flower (with the 
karman)', united with the Purusha (or: sent forth by the man) makes its 
way to the menftrual blood ; it (the purusha, or : he that incarnates 
himself) meets her blood, etc. In view of 9I. 14 it seems, however, 
as if we muft translate : " He (he that takes on a body) goes into the 
tear-drop (the seed), which mingles itself with the produft of menftrua- 
tion (pushpaphala)," etc. See also K., i, 84.14, where pushpaphala 
is found inftead of the pushparasa in B., 90.14. With asra cp. bmdu 

" seed ". 

2 Atisarvam. Perhaps api sarvam : and into all ? Or atisarvam 
together with dvipadam, and this then = human being, that is : 

" excelling all ? " ,-, r) •• q 

3 Builds itself up, develops (i, 90.13). Cp. Ram., vii, : 
sarvam samucchrayam, all that grows, all hving beings. 

4 Makes use of his consciousness (samjnam adhishthaya). 

5 It is said also of the wind in the i8th ftrophe that it escorts as a 
guide the soul that has fled from one body to a new one. 

e They are set forth earlier. Deussen : " quahties. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

so it has been handed down to us. The one takes for his own, 
as something that cannot be perceived, the (basic) matter 
(prakriti) of these parts, and in Hke wise, as something that can 
be perceived, the other, who has a coarse under^anding. 
To be perceived or not to be perceived, twofold or fourfold — 
they that have pondered on the world-soul see matter in all 
beings. The matter which (in itself) cannot be perceived 
has through its (incarnated) parts taken on perceptibility : 
I and thou, O king, and all other corporeal beings there are. 
With the pouring in of the drop (of the male seed) those con- 
ditions begin that arise out of the male seed and out of the 
(woman's) blood, and through their appearance the kalala ^ 
comes into being ; from the kalala develops the small bubble 
(budbuda) ; and from the small bubble the lump of flesh 
(pe^) — so tradition teaches us. But from the lump of flesh 
the limbs come forth, and nails and hair from the limbs. After 
the ninth month is fulfilled, O king of Mithila, name and 
form (the individuality) comes into being of the child begotten, 
a little woman or man according to the marks of sex.^ 
Although a man sees his (of one new-born) shape equipped 
with red nails and fingers di redly after birth, yet he does not 
observe that in his own shape, when it has received the shape of 
childhood's years. And from childhood's years into the 
years of youth, and into advanced years from the years of 
youth — in these successive ^ages a man never perceives again 
what has gone before. A change in the con^ituents and the 
various things belonging to them ^ is happening each infant 
in all beings ; but because of their fineness it is not perceived. 
Nor is their passing away noticed, and their coming into being 
in one ftate after another, no more than in a light is noticed 
what happens with the flame.* Since this whole world, 
which has this for its charafter, is ever ha^ening on like a good 

^ More or less = dot, jutting point ; probably from kal, to drive. 
Cp. Windisch, Buddhai Geburt u. d. Lekre von der Seelenzcanderungy 
p. 86 at bottom ff. 

^ This is the obvious rendering. But compare note 4 on p. 366. 

^ As form, etc. Nil. 

* It is really different at every moment from what it was at the 
moment before. 

The Origin of Man 

^eed, whence then springs a man, and whence does he not 
spring ? To whom belongs anything definite, and to whom 
does it not belong ? Whence does it come, and whence not ? 
What connexion have beings here on earth even with their 
own limbs ? As fire out of the sun, the precious ^one, plants, 
so do beings arise out of the union of the (thirty named) com- 
ponents. Why, ju^ as thou see^ thine own self in thyself 
through thy self, do^ thou not see thine own self in others 
through thy self ?" (xii, 320. iii ff.).^ Through a blinding 
of perception do men fall into desire (kama). From desire 
men come into anger,^ then into greed and blindness, into 
self-confidence and pride, and into self-seeking, from self- 
seeking then into works, through works into bonds of love,^ 
through love at once into suffering,* and thus giving occasion 
for birth and death;^ by undertaking works leading to pleasure 
and pain, they come to that dwelling in the womb which 
begins with the begetting, and is brought about by seed and 
blood, is moi^ with excrement and water, and fouled with the 
produdls of the blood. Overwhelmed by the thir^ for 
life (trishna), bound by these things, ever and again led off 
a^ray to them,® let man know that women are the continuers 
of the web of the Sarnsara. They are the ploughed field of 
nature (of matter, prakrityah kshetrabhutas), men manife^ 
themselves as the soul ; therefore let the man before all things 
leave them behind him, one and all. They are witches of 
a dreadful kind, they bewilder those without under^anding, 
they are the ever-abiding, passion-bewoven embodiment of 
sensuality (indriyanam).' Therefore are the children born 
^ The line of verse left out by me in the translation I have always 
held to be a baseless insertion, and I now see that it is not found in 
K. — The " self" is in all beings the same, the eternal Atman. 

2 Translated in accordance with K. (K., 2 r 5). 

3 Read snehasarnbandhan. Also -sambandhah or -sambandharn 
would be possible. K has -sambandhah. 

* Or : into the suffering that is immediately bound up with it. 

^ To come to their help ; that is, they being subjeft to birth and 
death through the undertaking of the works. 

^ Literally : swimming about (= drifting) to them. 

' That is, they live and weave in passion, and as they are glorified 
by sensuality, their hidden (antarhita) true nature is not recognized. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

from passion, animated in them, as the source. Ju^ as the 
vermin (such as hce, etc.) which has come into being from 
our own bodies, and yet is not deemed our own property ^ 
is put away from our bodies, so let the vermin also which is 
looked on as our own property, and yet is not property of ours,^ 
and is called " children ", be put away from us. Through 
seed and (men^rual) fluid children are born from che body, 
of themselves (svabhavat), or through the working of the 
karman — let the wise man look beyond them. . . . Whatever 
in^rument of the mind is put forth in the fruit of the womb 
by the karman, which forms the germ, this arises out of the 
impulse of the self ^ through the spiritual element accompanied 
by the urge of passion. From the urge of passion after sound 
the ear comes into being of him whose self is developing, 
from the urge of passion after shape the eye, the nose from 
the wish to perceive smell, the skin for touch (for the feeling 
brought about through touch, and its objedls). In like wise 
the wind is in the Prana and Apana, it is Vyana, Udana, and 
Samana, the fivefold fundlion of the body.^ Wrapped round 
with the limbs born with him, born out of the karman, as his 
body, man is born, with the limbs of body and soul, which 
have their beginning and end in pain, and in pain their middle 
course" (xii, 213.3 ff.).* 

Indeed, antarhita probably = antarita, as tliis is used in ii, 68.46: 
dharmantarita, hidden in virtue, gone into virtue, become the essence 
of virtue. Cp. Ram., v, 9.23. In^ead of "witches" perhaps 
rather : " magic forces," embodied curses, etc. (kritya). 

^ Probably less likely : our own self. Sva = atman (cp. J. J. 
Meyer, Damodaraguptas Kuttammatam, p. 108, n.)is not seldom found 
in the Epic (e.g. i, 111.2,12; ii, 49.51; iii, 150.48; 207.54; 
V, 43.60 ; Ram., vi, 34.6 even : sa pravishta tatas tatra dadar^a 
Janakatmajam pratikshamanam svam eva bhrashtapadmam iva 

^ Ahamkara. 

^ Literally : in fivefold wise keeping the body in aftion (dehaya- 

* Or, as Indians, so far as I know, do not speak of spiritual limbs, 
better after all would be : With the limbs born with him is man 
born, wrapped in the body, with conditions of body and mind which 
have their beginning, end, and middlecourseinpain. — As to birth we are 


The Origin of Man 

told : " After the fifth month the fcetus has all its limbs ; through 
the ^rength of the wind it is driven to the mother-gate (yonidvara) 
and born, with the legs up, the head down " (xi, 4.2 ff.). xii, 320.17, 
therefore, should probably, inftead of " After the ninth month is 
fulfilled, name and form comes into being, etc.," which indeed sounds 
Grange, be translated : " When the child after the ninth month is 
fulfilled has been born, then its individuality becomes known, whether 
it is a boy or a girl, according to the marks of sex." Jayate therefore = 
comes to light (or perhaps is to be altogether changed to jnayate)^ 
hardly : " it is born into individuality (or even : the phenomenal world)," 
although jayate with such an accusative would not be un-Epic. 

There are many correspondences with the teachings of the Epic 
iuft set forth to be found in the discourses on reincarnation, pro- 
creation, growth of the foetus, and birth in the Garbha-Upanishad 
(transl. by Deussen, Sechzig Upanischads des Veda) ; Yajnavalkya's 
law book, iii, 67 fF. ; and the Puranas. These also repeat the doftrine 
of the Upanishads : The child in the womb remembers its former 
exigences, but through touching the wind of the outer world is at 
once deprived of its knowledge, after having been driven forth by the 
Prajapati or birth wind, a doftrine which in its essentials corresponds 
to a Jewish one (see Wolfg. Schultze, Dokumente d. Gnosis, Jena, 
1910, p. 4 ff.). Seee.g.Wilson'sVishnupur.,vol.v,p. 203f.; Agnipur., 
369.19 ff. ; Garudapur., Pretakalpa, xxxii ; Mark.-Pur., x, 1-6; 
xi (according to gl. 18 the new-born child at once loses its supernatural 
knowledge through Vishnu's bewildering maya or magic powers) ; 
Bhagavatapur., iii, 3 1 (according to gl. i man [jantu] comes into the 
mother's womb, borne by the male seed, retahkana9raya = Garuda- 
puranasaroddh., vi, 5) ; Garudapuranasaroddh., vi, 5 ff. ; Abegg, 
Pretakalpa, vi, 5 ff. (in p. 92, note 5, Abegg gives a number of 
references); xv, 15-18; Carakasamh., iv, 4; Windisch, Buddhas 
Geburt, etc., p. 12 ff. How wonderful and myfterious the ongm 
of man was in the eyes of the Old Indians the Epic has already shown 
us. In the Markandeyapurana, pregnancy is called something holy 
and meritorious (x, 10) ; 'and procreation is in the Vedic view an aft 
of sacrifice, a worship of God (see e.g. Chand.-Up., v, 8 ; Bnh.-Up., 
vi, 4.3). How piously and solemnly, and how ceremoniously it muft 
be entered upon, we are taught at the end of the Brihadaranyaka- 
Upanishad (vi, 4.13 ff.) with a pure and elevating, a noble and simple 
earneftness. And so it goes on, although not with such simphcity, 
down to the Mahanirvanatantra (ix, 94-116). 

Very important, however, is now the queftion : How are boys 
begotten and how are girls ? The matter has already been touched on 
at the beginning of this book. Nil. in discussing i, 90.14 repeats 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

the Indian theory : If there is an over-measure of male seed, then it 
will be a boy, if an over-measure of menftrual blood, a girl ; if the 
two are equal, an hermaphrodite; if the seed splits, twins. There would 
then be no deliberate determination of sex, about which popular 
belief elsewhere believes it knows so much. For the Mahabharata 
itself takes its place with the many examples which are to be found 
in this matter in Indian literature since the days of the Brahmanas, 
and assures us in xiii, 87.10, 1 1 that if the forefathers are worshipped 
with (^raddhas on the second day in the half of the month with waning 
moon, then there will be girls ; if they are worshipped on the fifth day, 
then many sons will be begotten (cp. Apart., ii, 7, 16.8, 12 ; Vishnu, 
Ixxviii, 37, 40). xiii, 1 04.1 5 i sounds more reasonable, and not unlike 
a view often found among ourselves : " Let the wise man go in the 
night to his wife, when she has bathed on the fourth day (after the 
rtart of her period) ; on the fifth day it will be a girl, on the sixth a boy." 
However we may here have only the v/ell-known Indian belief: On 
even nights it will be a son, odd nights a girl (Carakas., iv, 8.6 ; Garu- 
dapur., Pretakalpa, xxxii, 12 ; Abegg, Pretakalpa, xv, 10; Agnipur., 
153.2; Manu,iii,48; Brihatsamh., 78.23 ; etc.). Another view which 
is often held in later times would seem to show itself already in Yajna- 
valkya, i, 80 : The man murt on an even night, etc., approach once his 
emaciated wife (kshama), then he will beget a son. But perhaps the 
reference is only to the waging efFeft, anyhow presumed, of the 
woman's period. There is probably an inkling of the truth in Brihat- 
samh., 68.14-16 (almoft wholly = Garudapur., 65.i9b-22a) : 
the matter depends on the nature of the man's seed. In the marks, too, 
that show the sex of the child in the mother's womb India finds 
itself on the same ground as the Wert. The beautiful, blooming 
complexion, that is to say, of the mother, is spoiled by a female fruit 
in the womb, probably from envy ; while the complexion keeps its 
freshness and beauty when a boy is on the way. This is too the teaching 
of the Old Indian physicians. The Hindus are in agreement also 
with the Greeks, Romans, Jews, older Germans, Slavs, etc., in naturally 
allotting the preferred side, the right, to the male sex. So we find in 
Divyavadana, pp. 2,98 and in other places in this coUedion of Buddhirt 
legends : " Five particular charaderirtics has a wise woman : (i) she 
knows vvhether a man loves her, she knows whether he does not love 
her ; (2) she knows the time, she knows the period ; (3) she knows if 
she has conceived a child ; (4) she knows by whom she has become with 
child ; (5) she knows whether it is a boy, she knows whether it is a girl 
— if it is a boy, then it rtays curled up on the right side of the belly, 
if it is a girl, then on the left side. So too in the Avadana^ataka ; 
see Feer, Ann. Musee Guimet, vol. xvii, p. 5, and in Schiefner's Indische 


The Origin of Man 

What each one of the two parents contributes to the building 
of the body we are told in xii, 305.5 f " Bones, sinews, 
and marrow we know as the parts that come from the father ; 
skin, flesh, and blood — these come from the mother, so we are 
told.^ Thus, O be^ of the twice-born, is it laid down in 
the Veda, and in the didactic books." But we have already 
been told that the flesh arises out of the seed, and so we read 
also in xiii, 116. 13. But of course there the formation of 
the fruit of the womb is not under discussion. ^ Also the sons 
take after the father, the daughters after the mother, this being 
according to a popular proverb (pravado laukikah in Ram., ii, 
35.28). Opposed to this there is another world saying 
(lokapravada), given in Ram., iii, 16.34 and there endorsed 
on the whole, that human beings in their charadler do not 

Erzahlungen, No. xlvi ; Bull, de VAcad. Imp. des Sciences de St. 
Petersbourg, vol. xxiv, col. 483 if. In the la^-named is told the well- 
known te^ of skill for the young physician Jivaka, taken from the journey 
of the sons of King Serendip. However, the matter seems exaftly 
the opposite in Chavannes, Ades du XIV. Congr. intern, des oriental., 
Cinqu. seS., p. 136 ff. (here the foot-marks on the left are deeper, and 
therefore a male offspring is inferred). But cp. Chavannes, Cinq cents 
conies, i, 379-381. See also Agnipur., 369.2 ib-2 2a, and especially 
Windisch, Buddhas Geburt, p. 19. All kinds of cabbaliftic means 
for finding out a child's sex in the mother's womb are given e.g. in 
Agnipur., cxli, 3-5. 

^ According to Agnipur., 369.31-32; 370.i9b-2oa, from the 
mother comes heart, skin, flesh, colour, navel, mucus, fat, belly, 
pancreas, and the blask of the eye ; but from the father : veins, arteries, 
nerves, seed, etc., as also the white of the eye. Carakas., iv, 3, 5.1, 
is partly different. See espec. Jolly, Medizin, p. 55 middle, and cp. 
here, as for the whole chapter, R. Schmidt, Liebe u. Ehe in Indien, 

2 On the other hand Cirakari, xii, 266.25, 26 says tersely : " Man 
has from the mother the conglomerate in mortality, made up of the 
five elements," that is, at leaft in fir^ place, the body ; from the father, 
therefore, presumably the " soul ". This was the belief also of the 
Naudowessies (Weftermarck, 105—106 ; Mantegazza, Gesch- 
lechtsverhaltnisse, 231). But Cirakari shortly before this (9I. 18) 
declares that to the father is due " the body and the re^ " (gariradini). 
Possibly, however, body here is to be taken =-- life. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

take at all after the father, but only after the mother. How- 
ever, neither the one nor the other of these popular beliefs 
agrees with the teaching of the Mahabharata ; for since the 
soul and the karman are bound up with the seed, and thus are 
contributed by the man, therefore as a necessary consequence 
the father, and none other, mu^ be responsible for the charader 
of the children, which view as is well known, is Schopen- 
hauer's. ^ The view, of course, is often found also that for 
a man's nature the father and mother mu^ both be taken into 
account. See e.g. xii, 296.3 f. ; Agnipur., 151.18b ; Meyer, 
Altind. Rechtsschr.^ pp. 263—65. 

Procreation outside wedlock has, according to Bhishma's 
reproachful words about Karna (vi, 122. 1 1 f.), an unfavourable 
effedl on the charafter.^ Fivefold is the way whereby the 
gods can beget : through the simple wish, through the word, 
the look, the wholly outward touch (spar9a), and " rubbing " 
(sarngharsha, coitus, xv, 30.22).^ 

The sojourn in the mother's womb is looked on too as some- 
thing nauseating and gruesome in the Epic, as has already been 
mentioned, and as such it is even made use of figuratively 
(ix, 56.32, as often in Indian literature elsewhere). The 
womb thus is even called in MBh., K, xii, 215.7 narakagarta 

^ The ftress lies on karman. For what we call sou], that is, percep- 
tion, conception, thought, will, etc., belongs on the Indian theory, 
especially that of Sankhya — and the Epic is dominated by this — 
to the domain of matter, that is of the woman. The Jiva or Purusha 
(" soul " in the Indian meaning), which corresponds to the man's 
nature, has really no connexion whatever with anything of this. 

^ On the other hand this opinion uttered in a personal reprimand 
has little value. Karna, indeed, and other " love children " in the 
MBh. itself refute it. 

3 Cp. Jacobi's Tattvarthadhigama, iv, 9 (ZDMG, Bd. 60) ; Glase- 
napp, Der Jainismus, p. 241 ; Henne am Rhyn, Die Frau. i. d. 
Kulturg^sch., p. 50. In the beginning beings propagated themselves 
wholly by look, touch, tapas, simple will, etc. Coition did not 
appear till later. Wilson's Vishnupurana, ed. Hall, vol. ii, p. ro ; 
Mark.-Pur., xlix, 8 ff. ; Saurapurana, xxv, 20-28 (Jahn, p. 69). 
Cp. Hartland, Primit. Patern., i, 18 ff. 

[For such a ^age earlier than coition cp. perhaps from Melanesia, 
G. C. Wheeler, Mono- J hi Folklore, pp. 42-3, 242 ff. (Translator.)] 

The Origin of Man 

(hell's pit). In the Epic, too, it la^s generally ten months 
(iii, 134-17 J 205.10, etc.). But we repeatedly meet with 
far longer pregnancies in the Mahabharata. ^ It is for three 
years that (^akuntala bears Bharata in the womb, and that 
which took a long time, even here turns out well (i, 74.1-2). 
Gandharl has been now with child for two years, her womb 
is hard, and she learns with sorrow that Kunti has given birth ; 
then with great torment she sets to thumping (ghatayamasa) 
her belly, and brings forth a lump of flesh as hard as a ball of 
iron. At Vyasa's order she pours cold water over it, where- 
upon it falls into one hundred and one pieces, which she puts 
in a vessel with melted butter ; a hundred sons and one daughter 
thus come into being (i, 1 15.1 fF.). The same thing happens, 
too, to the wife of King Kalmashapada : she frees herself 
after twelve years from the fruit of her womb, which the 
Brahman Vasishtha has begotten in her, by opening her own 
body with a ^one ; hence her son is called A9maka (" Stone- 
ling ", i, 177.44 ff.). Vasishtha's daughter-in-law Adri^yantl 
in the same way for twelve years shelters under her heart 
Para^ara, who was later to be the holy man. He spends his 
time, during this very thorough preparation for coming into 
life, in studying the Vedas aloud (i, 177. 11 ff. ; 43 ff.). 
Lopamudra, Aga^ya's wife, carries for seven years, and then 
bears her son, but a wonder-child likewise (iii, 99.24 ff.). 
A hundred years even does a Bhrigu woman carry Aurva, 
and that in her thigh. Then the child is to be slain by the 
hoAile Kshattriyas, and comes out of the thigh with such 
sunlike brightness that the evi'-doers all lose their sight (i, 178. 
1 1 ff.). This cunftator, too, knows the whole Veda before 
his birth. On the other hand, the Rakshasa women bring 
forth at once after conception, as Satyavatl does Vyasa, and as, 
according to Jean Paul, the Talmud teaches as to Jewish 
women in heaven (i, 155.36). This is a special grace which 
Uma or Kali has beilowed on the RakshasT (Ram.,vii, 4.30, 31). 

^ See Hopkins, JAOS, 24, p. 19 ; 392 ; Wilson's Vishnupur., 
iii, p. 290 (7 years) ; iv, 87 ; Mark.-Pur., cxxxiii, 2 f. (9 years) ; 
Vishnupur., vol. iv, p. 87 (15 years) ; Chavannes, Cirtq cents contes, 
i, 200 ; iii, 136 ; etc. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Pregnancy at a very tender age is one of the signs of the on- 
coming end of the world (iii, 188.60 ; 190.49). Ju^ as 
dreadful is the killing of the fruit of the womb. This crime, 
which is so often mo.<l strongly condemned by the Indians, 
and which is heavily punished in the law books, can according 
to the Mahabharata only thus be atoned for : " The fcetus- 
slayer is cleansed of his sin if in the mid^ of battle the weapon 
lights on him (and kills him), or by his sacrificing himself 
in a kindled fire ; thereby is he cleansed of his sin " (xii, 165. 

46, 47)-' 

That the man should need a very long time to bring a child 
into the world, when he becomes pregnant, seems easy to 
underhand. 2 There once lived a king, mighty in sacrifices, 
of the line of Ikshvaku, Yuvana^va his name. " As this 
very glorious and pious one had no offspring, he handed over 
the kingdom to his minivers, and gave him.self up to life in 
the forest, plunging his soul, he that had his soul under his 
control, in reflexion in the way laid down by the books of 
in^ru6f:ion. One day, the prince, tormented with facing, 

^ The slaying or making away with the fruit of the womb is one 
of the sins that cannot be atoned for on earth (Dubois-Beauchamp ^, 
197) ; it is equal to the murder of a Brahman and to be atoned 
for in the same way (Apa^., i, 9, 24.4 ; Vasishtha, xx, 23 f. ; Gautama, 
xxii, 12—13 (here when it is the embryo of a Brahman); Vishnu, 
xxxvi, I ; 1, 1—99 ; nay, it is twice as wicked and allows of no atone- 
ment, but the woman rauii be caft out (Paragara, iv, 18), or driven 
out of the city (Narada, xii, 91 f.). Along with the murder of a 
husband and connexion with a man of low birth it is one of the three 
greateft crimes in a woman (Yajnav., iii, 298) ; ^ands in the same line 
with the moft dreadful sins, and leads to loss of caftc (Apa^., i, 7, 21.8 ; 
Vasishtha, xxviii, 7; Gautama, xxi, 9); is the type of moft dreadful 
sin (Mahanirvanat., iii, 153) ; and so on. Naturally awful punish- 
ments are, especially in the Puranas, threatened after death. This 
very zeal shows, however, that this sin was not an uncommon one in 
Old India, either. But whether it is so very common among the 
Hindus and particularly on the part of the widow, as some observers 
declare, is a matter of very great doubt. 

^ For the reason, too^ that he is generally used to do things more 
thoroughly and better ; for the long pregnancies that are found in 
other cases lead to human beings beyond the ordinary. 

The Origin of Man 

parched within by thirft, came into the hermitage of Bhrigu. 
On this very night the high-souled, great Rishi was carrying 
out a sacrifice for Yuvana^va, that he might get a son. A 
great jar, filled with water purified with holy words, ^ood 
there ; it had been made ready before, that the wife of Yuvana9va 
might drink it, and bear an Indra-like son. The jar had been 
set down on the sacrificial altar by the great Rishis, and now 
they were sleeping. Yuvana^va went by these men wearied 
by the night watch ; with dry throat, tortured by thir^, 
filled with a great yearning for water, he that was filled with 
peace of soul made his way into the hermitage, and asked for 
water. As the wearied one with parched throat now moaned 
tearfully, no one heard him, ju^ as though it were the cry 
of a bird. So soon as the prince saw the jar filled with water, 
he ran impetuously up to it, drank it dry, and set it down again. 
When the thir^-tormented ruler of the earth had drunk the 
cold water, the wise one felt the bliss of the quenched glow 
(nirvanam agamat), and was very happy. Then those Munis 
and the penitents awoke, and they all saw that the jar of water 
was emptied. ' Whose deed is that ? ' those asked who came 
up, Yuvanacva acknowledged the truth, and said : ' Mine.' 
' That is not well,' then said the holy son of Bhrigu to him ; 
' that thou maye^ get a son, I have set the water there, and 
made it fitting through my asceticism. I have put into it 
the holy power,^ having given myself up to dreadful penance, 
that thou mayeft obtain a son, O kinglv Rishi of great might 
and bravery. (It was to be) a son of great ^rength, of great 
heroic valour, and ascetic power, who with his heroic courage 
would bring even Indra into Yama's abode. Through this 
holy aftion I have brought this about. In that thou haft 
now drunk the water thou haft: not done well, O king. But 
now we cannot make this otherwise than it is. It is 
undoubtedly a disposition of Providence that thou haft thus 
afted. Through this water that thou didft drink in thy thirft, 
which I had marked off by ceremony and prayer, and made 
ready through the power of my penance, thou thyself wilt 
bear such a son. I will then carry out for thee a moft wonderful 

^ That is, the Brahmanic power. Hardly : the holy Veda word 
(brahman). Cp. xiii, 4.38, 60 f. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

sacrifice, that thou with hero's ^rength, thou mayeft bring 
forth an Indra-like son, and also need suffer none of the ills 
arising from the carrying of the womb's fruit.' Then at the 
end of a hundred years the son there, who was like a sun, split the 
left thigh of the high-souled king, and came forth, he the mo^ 
powerful ; and King Yuvanaq:va was not taken by death ; 
that was very wonderful." — Wonderful, too, was the child, 
Mandhatar, of whom not only the Brahmans but the Buddhi^s 
also have told many tales (iii, 126).^ According to vii, 62, 
indeed, the two A?vins have to do service here as midwives ; 
they pull Mandhatar out of his father's womb (garbha). Here 
the king while hunting came thirfty to a sacrificial ofiFering, 
and drank the sacrificial butter. In xii, 29.81 ff., too, Man- 
dhatar comes into being in his father's belly, and in this passage, 
indeed, also through sacrificial butter being consumed. Here 
the wind gods took the child from his father's side.^ Also 
the pious king Cibi Au^Inara bears a son from out of his side 
(iii, 197.26 ff.). 

h. generatio aequivoca is likewise related in the old Pururavas 
saga. The Mahabharata gives the following account : All 
the sons of Manu perished through ^rife. " Then was 
Pururavas born of Ila ; she was both his mother and his 
father ; so we have been told " (i, 75.18, 19). On the other 
hand, according to Ram., vii, 87 ff., he is the son of Ila and 
Budha in the ordinary way. Ila, the very mighty king of 
the Bahllka was roving on the hunt through the fore^ in the 
heart-delighting spring-time. At this same time ^iva together 
with his wife was taking his delight on the mountain where 
Karttikeya had been born, and for her he changed himself 
into a woman ; all the other male beings, too, which were 

^ In what follows there his greatness is shortly described, and more 
fully in other parts of the MBh. A poetic rendering of the_Jataka 
tale about him is to be found in my Kavyasamgraha, metrhch. Vberset- 
zungen auj indtschen u. anderen Sprachen, p. 35 ff. Cp. Schiefner, 
Bullet, d. Petersburger Akad., vol. 24, col. 458 ff. 

2 In Vishnupur. (Wilson), iii, p. 267, Mandhatar splits his father's 
right side, so in Bhagavatapur., ix, 6, 30, the right side of the belly, 
and so comes out. With his birth out of the thigh, cp. Zschr. d. Ver. 
f. Folksk., Bd. 4, p. 48 ff. ; 1 57 ff. 


The Origin of Man 

already there, even the trees, and all that came thither had 
to take on woman's sex. As soon as Ila reached there, 
this divine spell worked itself on him also and his following. 
He was deeply troubled at this, and made his appeal to Civa, 
who laughed him to scorn. The god's wife, however, showed 
herself more compassionate : through her grace Ila was allowed 
always to be a woman for a month, and for a month a man, 
and in neither ^ate did he remember the other. Ila, so the 
new woman was called, now roved through that fore^, free 
and merry, with her following, which was likewise feminine, 
and she came once to a glorious lake. In it Budha, the moon's 
son, was giving himself up to asceticism, but through the sight 
of the bewitchingly lovely wanderer of the wild he was so 
fired by love that he could no longer restrain himself ; he 
turned her attendants into Kirnpurushi, and told them that as 
these they would find husbands ; while to Ila, who thus saw 
herself robbed in the lonely fore^ of her following, he offered 
himself as a loving husband, and with this she was glad. With 
her he spent the whole of the spring moon in such delights 
that it flew by him like a moment. But when the month 
was at an end, Ila awoke in the morning as a man again, and 
called to the son of Soma : " I came into these mountain 
wilds with a great following. Where are my attendants, 
then ? " " A rain of stones has killed them." " Then 
I who have lo^ my wives and people will no longer be king, 
either, but hand over the rule to my son." But Budha 
prevailed on him to ^ay there for a year ; then he promised 
to do his besT:. To this the herdsmen of the earth agreed. 
" For a month he was now a woman, and gave himself up 
to his pleasure without a break ; for a month he gave himself 
up as a man to pious ways and thoughts." In the ninth month 
as Ila he then bore Pururavas. By a horse-sacrifice Civa 
was then put in a gracious frame of mind by Ila's kindred, 
and gave him back his manhood.^ 

^ Cp. Hertel, " Die Geburt des Pururavas," Wiener 7.eitschr.f. d. 
Kunde d. MorgenL, xxv (191 1), p. 135 fF. According to Vetalapancav., 
No. 15 (quoted Dagakumaracar., p. 85) it was Gauri's curse that 
changed King Ila into a woman ; according to Markandeyapur., cxi, 
12, Mahegvara's anger; the Bhagavatapur. (ix, 1.23 ff.) makes the 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

A lij<e change of sex is related in Mahabharata, xiii, 12 
(K., 34). " Yudhishthira spoke: 'Which of the two has 
the more glorious feeling from the touch, when a woman and 
man unite ? As to this doubt, do thou, O king, give me right 
ini\ru(5lion.' Bhishma spoke : ' Of this too, this old tale is 
told, how, once before, Indra bore an enmity againsT: Bharigas- 
vana. Once upon a time there was an exceedingly pious 
Rishi king called Bharigasvana ; as he had no sons, O tiger 
among men, that he might get a son he made the Agnishtut 
sacrifice so hateful to Indra, he, the mo^ mighty Rishi king. 
This is prescribed for atonements, and if a man wants a son 
for himself. But when Indra, the moft excellent ruler of 
the gods, learned of this sacrifice, he sought an opportunity 
to lay hold of this royal Rishi, who ever kept himself in check. 
And he could see no weak spot in this high-minded one, O 
king. Some time after, the herdsman of men went out 
hunting. ' This is a chance,' thought Indra, and he perplexed 
the king : then the royal Rishi did nothing but wander 
about with his one horse, and, tormented by hunger and thir^, 
the prince could not find his way in the quarters of the heavens. 
And as he was galloping this way and that,i he saw a gloriously 
shining lake full of splendid water. He rode to the lake,- 
my friend, and watered his ^eed. When his horse had drunk, 

change come about as in the MBh., but tells of another cause why 
(^iva laid this spell : Once he was visited by pious Rishis, who found 
his wife naked in his arms. She was very much ashamed, and therefore 
the god thus spoke for her sake : " Whoso comes into the fore^ shall 
become a woman." In the two seftions of the Purana Manu through 
a mi^ake of the sacrificing prieft gets a daughter, Ila, insT:ead of a son ; 
through special favour she becomes a man, named Sudyumna, and 
he then becomes a woman through the power of the god, etc. Cp. 
Ilarivaniqia, x, 61 5 fF. ; Crooke, Pop. Re/., ii, 7. 

[For Melanesian ideas on changing of sex cp. G. C. Wheeler, 
Mono-Ala Folk!., pp. 19, 20, 21, 62, 276.] 

1 So according to K., where we find itag ceta^ ca dhavan vai. In 
the Bomb, text we can join ita? ceta? ca either with bhranta, which 
would be very ^ifF, or take it as a hvely sentence without a verbal 

2 Or: " he rode into the lake "(lit. dipped). I would read avagatya 
inroad of avagahya, and have translated accordingly in the text. 

The Origin of Man 

the moft excellent herdsman of men tied it to a tree, and plunged 
in. But as soon as he had bathed there, be became a woman. 
When he now saw himself turned into a woman, the be^ 
of princes was ashamed ; his whole soul was filled with 
mournful sorrow, and his mind and heart were troubled. ' But 
how can I mount my horse ? how go into the city ? And through 
the Agnishtut sacrifice which I made a hundred ^out sons of 
my body have been born to me. But what shall I say to them ? 
And what shall I say among my wives, and the townsmen 
and the country-folk ? Tenderness and weakness and a 
faint heart withal arc the marks of women, as the Rishis 
have declared, who know Virtue, truth, and profit. Manly 
sT:rength put forth, ^ernness, and bravery are the marks of 
a man.i My manhood is gone, through some way or other 
I have become a woman. And since I am a woman, how 
can I mount my horse again ? ' With great trouble, however, 
the fir^ herdsman of men now mounted his ^eed,^ and went 
back into the city, turned into a woman, he the beft of 
princes. But his sons, wives, servants, townsmen, and country- 

1 So according to K. The Bomb. Text has : In bodily exercises 
(or : in battle) ftdunchness (fternness, hardness) and a hero's courage — 
these are the marks of the man. 

2 Reputable women according to this passage do not ride in Old 
India ; for whatever goes with the army, riding on horse or ass (^i?u- 
palav., xii, 20 ; v, 7) is, anyhow in moft cases, light goods. But probably 
the widow who is going to let herself be burnt with her dead husband 
often rides there on horseback. See Zachariae, Z,eitschr. d. Ver. f. 
/^f?//^//^., Bd. 14, p. 2o8,note 2 ; 209; 302; 305. She has come away 
from the ordinary laws. Or was the horse so often chosen by her as 
being a bea^ that frightens away the spirits, brings luck, and is 
prophetic } Cp. Negelein, " Das Pferd in Seelenglauben u. Seelen- 
kult," Zschr. d. Ver.f. Volksk., Bd. 1 1, p. 406 ff. ; Bd. 12, p. 14 ff. ; 
377 fF. ; especially Bd. 11, p. 406 f ; 409 ff. ; Bd. 12, p. 384; 
MBh., iv, 39.6; 46.25; K., 46.8; etc.; Tod, RajaRkan, i, 592 
(the Rajputs to-dayflill see an omen in the horse's neighing) ; Schroeder, 
MyHerium u. Mimus im Rigveda, 429 ff. ; George Wilke, Kultur- 
bexiehungen, etc. (Wiirzburg., 1913), p. 122; Fr. S. Krauss, Slav. 
Volkforsch.y 130. As widow-burning probably originated with the 
Kshattriyas, it may be indeed that therefore this warrior-animal 
kept true to the Sati. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

men fell to the greater wondering, when they learned of it, 
and spoke : ' What is this, indeed ? ' Then said the royal 
Rishi, be^ of all speakers, that had become a woman : ' I rode 
out to hunt, surrounded by ^out soldiers. Losing my way, 
I found myself, driven on by fate, in a dreadful fore^. And 
in this moA dreadful fore^, racked by thir^, and bereft of 
my senses, I saw a mo^ fair shining pond, covered with fowl. 
When I plunged into it, I was by the hand of Providence 
turned a little while ago into a woman.' And giving the 
names and families of his wives and mini^ers,^ then did this 
beft of princes speak to his sons : ' Do ye enjoy in gladness 
and friendship the kingly rule ; I am going away into the 
foreft, my little sons,' When he had thus spoken to his 
hundred sons, he did indeed go off into the fore^. And after 
this woman had gone into a hermitary, she found a penitent. 
From the penitent she had a hundred sons in the hermitary. 
Then she took them all with her, and spoke to her earlier 
sons : ' Ye are my sons from the time when I was a man, 
and these are my hundred sons which I have got as a woman. 
Enjoy ye, at one in brotherly hearts, the kingly rule, my dear 
sons.' Then did these brothers enjoy together the kingly 
rule. When the king of the gods saw them now ruling 
over the mo^ excellent kingdom with brotherly hearts, he 
thought to himself, overborne by anger : ' I have done the 
king a good deed, not an evil.' Then went the ruler of 
the gods, (^atakratu, in the shape of a Brahman, to the city, 
and birred up these sons of the herdsman of men : ' Among 
brothers there is no good brotherly understanding, even v/hen 
they are sons of one father. For the sake of the kingly rule 
the offspring of Ka(;yapa, the gods and the demons, fell to Strife. 
Ye are the offspring of Bhaiigasvana, the others are the sons 
of a penitent. But the gods and the demons are alike Ka^yapa's 
sons. Your father's kingdom is being ruled by the penitent's 
sons.' Stirred up by Indra, they slew one another in the fight. 
When the penitent's wife heard of it, she broke into tears, 
Stabbed through by sorrow. Indra, disguised as a Brahman, 
now came to her, and asked her : ' What is the sorrow 
tormenting thee, that thou wecpeSt, O lovely one ? ' Then 
^ This was, of course, to show he was King Bhaiigasvana. 


The Origin of Man 

the woman looked at the Brahman, and said with mournful 
voice : ' Two hundred sons of mine have been ^ricken to earth 
by de^iny. I was a king, O Brahman ; a hundred sons were 
born to me before, shaped Hke me,^ O beft of Brahmans. 
One day I went hunting, and lo^ my way in a deep fore^. 
And when I dipped in a lake, I became a woman, O mo^ 
excellent Brahman. Then I set my hundred sons in the 
kingly rule, and went into the fore^. As a woman, I bore a 
great-souled penitent in the hermitary a hundred sons, O 
Brahman, and these I took into the city. An enmity has 
by the dispensation of the gods arisen among them, O twice- 
born one. It is for this I mourn, O Brahman, overwhelmed 
by the waves of de^iny.' When Indra saw her sorrowing, 
he spoke these harsh words to her : ' In days gone by, my 
friend, thou didft do me evil truly hard to bear, offering the 
sacrifice hateful to Indra, without inviting me, who hold the 
firil place. I am Indra, thou fool, I have ca^ my hatred 
on thee.' But when the royal Rishi saw it was Indra, he 
bowed his head to Indra's feet : ' Be gracious, be^ of the 
thirty-three. I made that sacrifice in my yearning after sons, 
O tiger among the gods ; do thou forgive me this.' Rejoiced 
by his humble expression of reverence Indra granted him a 
favour : ' Which of thy sons. O king, are to live — tell me this — 
those thou did^ bear as a woman, or those that came to thee 
as a man ? ' Then spoke the penitent's wife to Indra, folding 
her hands before her forehead : ' The sons I bore as a woman 
are to live, O Vasava.' But Indra heard this with a^onishment, 
and once more asked the woman : ' How comes it, then, that 
the sons begotten by thee as a man are hateful to thee ? Where- 
fore harboureft thou the greater love for those thou did^ 
bear as a woman .? I would fain hear the reason. Tell it to 
me here .' The woman spoke : ' The woman cherishes a 
more tender love, not so, indeed, the man. Therefore, O 
(^akra, let those live that were born to me when I was changed 
into a woman.' " Bhlshma spoke : " Thus addressed, Indra 
then joyfully uttered the words : ' They shall all live, all of 
them, thou speaker of truth. And choose thyself a favour, 
^ Or according to K. (surupanarn instead of svarupanam) : " well- 
shaped." This is smoother, but perhaps not so old. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

O prince above kings, which thou, O pious one, do^ wish : 
thou mayeft be either a man or a woman, whichever thou would^ 
have of me.' The woman spoke : ' I choose to be a woman, 

(^akra : I have no wish to be a man, O Vasava.' But, thus 
addressed, the ruler of the gods made answer to the woman : 
' Wherefore do^ thou scorn to be a man, and insi^ on being 
a woman, O ruler ? ' To these words made answer the be^ 
among kings, that had become a woman : ' The woman has 
in the union with the man always the greater joy. That is 
why, O (^akra, I choose to be a woman. I feel greater pleasure 
in love as a woman, that is the truth, beft among the gods.^ 

1 am content with exigence as a woman. Do thou leave me, 
fir^ herdsman of the heavenly ones.' ' So be it ! ' he spoke, 
took leave of her, and went back into heaven. So it is said 
that the woman feels the greater love and pleasure." ^ 

^ According to K. (ramami). But the Bomb, reading has the same 

2 Cp. Winternitz and Caland in the 17th vol. of the Wiener 
Zeitschr. f. d. Kunde d. Morgenl. ; Hertel, Ind. Mdrchen^ p. 48 ff. ; 
371 ; and on change of sex note 200 (p. 282 f.) in my book Isoldes 
Gottesurteil. The view that the woman has greater passion in love and 
a Wronger pleasure in the a6l of union is not confined to India. There 
a proverb often heard says that the power of eating in the woman is 
twice as great as the man's, her cunning (or : her bashfulness) four 
times as great, her decision (or : boldness) six times as great, and her 
impetuosity in love (her delight in love's pleasures) eight times as 
great. Garudapur., 109.33; Schmidt, Indlsche Erotik ^, p. 132; 
Bohtlingk, Indiiche Spriiche, 412 ; Kressler, Stimmen ind. Lebens- 
klugheit, p. 153 ; Ben fey, Pantschatantra, i, 49. So too the Chinese 
hold woman to be more passionate. Gu^ave Schlegel, " La femme 
chinoise," X. Congres intern, des orient., Seft. v, p. 117. And the 
Arabs say : Les femmes ont en effet les passions plus violentes que les 
hommes, parce qu'elles ont I'intelligence plus faible. Basset, " Contes 
et legendes arabes," Rev. des tradit. popul., xiv, p. 486, cp. 118. 
Much more of this kind could be quoted. Konrad von Wiirzburg is 
of another opinion, who sings that the man's love-pangs are twice as 
cruel as the woman's [Engelhard, ed. by Haupt, 1 932 ff.). But medieval 
literature does not support him, not even the German. For there too 
the fair one herself is usually the leader in love, driven on by a violent 
ftrength of impulse, when as a rule she is wanting in all shame or 
bashfulness, and almo^ always in any reserve. Her hot passion and 


The Origin of Man 

The mo^ celebrated case of change of sex is that of 
Qikhandin, and the Mahabh. often returns to the subjed: of 
this transformation. The fulled account is found in v, 173 ff., 
and the tale throws much light on woman in the Epic. As 
has been already mentioned, Bhishma went to Ka^i, carried off 
the three daughters of the king there, who were ju^ holding 
their Svayarnvara (self-choice), and brought them to Ha^inapura 
to marry them to his half-brother. He tells us of this himself 
in our passage, and thus goes on (v, 174.4 ff.) : " When now 
with Satyavatl's consent the wedding had drawn nigh, the elde^ 
daughter of the king of Ka^i spoke these words shamefacedly : 
' Bhishma, thou knowc^ the law, thou art well versed in all 
the books of inftrudion. And when thou haft heard my law- 
abiding words, do thou adl accordingly. I have already chosen 
the king of the (^alvas in my heart as my bridegroom, and I 
have already been chosen by him in secret, without my father 

sensuality is often quite repulsive. An inftruftive co;npilation is 
given us by Th. Krabbes (Marburg, 1884) on the bearing of the 
" Frau im a/tfranzosischen Kar/s-Epos ". It is very well put 
in the Busant (Hagen's Gesamtabenteuer, i, p. 34) : " She offered 
her mouth, he gave the kiss " — the woman woos, as among the French, 
the man grants, is " drawn on by the eternal woman ". It is probably 
indeed more or less the same elsewhere, too, in the world : " Thou 
thinke^ to push, and thou art pushed." But with this long array of 
medieval ladies it goes much too far, who of course are all highly praised 
for their charity and purity. It was truly no easy thing in the Middle 
Ages to be a famous hero. If such a one came to a Grange caftle and 
was lying tired out at laft in bed, thinking like Wallen^ein to have a 
good sleep, then suddenly there appeared the daughter of the lord 
of the ca^le or of the prince, or the lady of the ca^le herself, and 
sank aflame with passion into the arms of the warrior, quite unknown 
to her till now. A very long li^ of such maidens and married 
women extraordinarily forward in things of love is given by Schultz, 
Das hofische Leber,, i, 595-8, and it is not at all complete. How 
skilled in the attack, nay shameless, women in love are among various 
peoples, especially the more or less uncultured — as to this tliere 
are interesting accounts to be found, for inblance, in Finck, Primitive 
Love, 109 ff. ; 380 f. ; 476 f. Among the old Greeks also the woman 
is seen to be far more greedy of love, and far less reserved than the man. 
Rohde, Der griech. Roman ^, espec. 34 ; 35; Finck, 1 14 ff. 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

knowing of it. How could^ thou, then, go beyond thy kingly 
duty, and make me, O Bhishma, who love another, dwell in 
the house here, especially as thou art a Kaurava ? When thou 
ha^^ decided this thing in thy heart by means of thy mind, then 
do thou take those ^eps here which seem to thee fitting. The 
king of the (^alvas assuredly awaits me. Therefore, O be^ 
of the Kurus, give me leave to go. Show pity on me, ^rong- 
armed one, be^ of the upholders of the law. For on earth thou 
art held to be the soul of truth, so we have been told.' Then I 
won the leave of Kali GandhavatI (SatyavatI), and that of the 
minivers and the high prie^s, and that of the house priefls, 
and released Amba, the elde^ maiden. When the girl had 
received permission, she went to the city of the king of the 
^alvas in the care of old Brahmans, and accompanied by her 
nurse. ^ When she had made the journey, she reached the 
prince. 2 When she had come to the king of the (^alvas, she spoke 
unto him the words : ' I have come for thy sake, O long-armed 
great-souled one.' To her spoke the lord of the ^alvas, smiling 
somewhat : ' I desire thee not as wife, that haft fir^ belonged 
to another, O thou of the lovely face. Go, my good friend, 
back again to thy sweetheart Bhishma. I will not have thee 
after Bhishma has taken thee by force. For thou wa^ carried 
off by Bhishma, and taken by him as a woman rejoicing 
in her love, after he had taken hold of thee, and overcome the 
kings in a great battle. I have no yearning to have a wife in 
thee, that haft already belonged to another, O lovely-faced one. 
How could a king such as I bring home a woman that has had 
to do with a ftranger, for I have the knowledge and teach the 
law to others ? Go jufl as thou wisheft, my friend ; let not 
this time go by thee unused.' Amba spoke to him, tormented by 
the arrows of love : ' Speak not thus to me, O herdsman of 
the earth. It is in no wise so. I was not carried off by Bhishma, 
rejoicing in my love, O harasser of thy foes. By force was 
I carried away by him, as I wept, and he put the princes to 

^ Whom we murt thus think of as having been carried off with her. 
Quite possible, however ; for the nurse bears her charge company at 
the Svayamvara, too, as is here and there mentioned. So xii, 4.10. 

2 K. has the smoother reading : asasada naradhipam. 


The Origin of Man 

flight. Love me, O lord of the ^alvas, who love thee, and 
am young and innocent. For to repel those that love one is a 
thing not praised in the laws. I made prayer to Gaiiga's son, 
to him that never turned his back in the fight, and with his 
leave I came hither at all speed. Bhishma, the ^rong-armed, 
wants me not ; it was for his brother's sake that Bhishma's 
deed was done, so I have been told. My two sixers, Ambika 
and Ambalika, whom Gariga's son carried off, he handed over 
to his younger brother Vicitravirya. I touch my head, O lord 
of the (^alvas, as I swear that but for thee, thou man-tiger, 
I have never thought, nor think, of another bridegroom. And 
it is not as one that has already had to do with another man that 
I have come to thee ; I am speaking the truth, and as I swear 
this oath I touch my own body.^ Take me in love, O great- 
eyed one, me that came herself to thee as a maid, that have 
never belonged to another, and that yearn for thy tenderness.' 
But ^alva gave no more heed to the daughter of the lord of 
Ka^i, who thus spoke, than does a snake to its sloughed skin. 
Although the prince was besought by her in this wise with many 
words, yet did he not believe in the maiden. Then spoke the 
eldest daughter of the king of Ka(^i, filled with anger, her eyes 
weeping, her voice choked with tears : ' Repulsed by thee, I go 
into the wide world. There may the good be my refuge, as 
truly as truth ^ands firm.' But while the maiden thus spoke, 
and bitterly wailed, the lord of the Calvas was making 
renunciation of her. ' Go, go,' the (^alva kept on saying to her ; 
' I fear Bhishma, O thou with the lovely hips, and thou art 
Bhishma's own.' Thus addressed by the ^alva, him the short- 
sighted one, the mournful one walked out of the city, wailing 
like a sea-eagle. But as she walked out of the city, she was 
thinking to herself in her dreadful sorrow : ' There is no young 
girl on earth who could be worse off than I am. I am bereft 
of my kindred, and I have been repulsed by the (^alva ; and I 
cannot go out again to Ha^inapura, after Bhishma for the 

^ This is the moft usual formula for an oath in the Epic. The 
warrior, of course, often swears by his weapons, as elsewhere (e.g. 
Manu, viii, 113; Narada, i, 199; Tod, Raja^han, i, 80; 625). 
See Meyer, Altind. Rechtsschr., p. 222. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

^alva's sake has let me go away. Whom shall I now upbraid : 
myself or Bhishma, whom it is hard to get near ? Or my 
blinded father, who held my Svayarnvara ? I have brought 
this evil on myself, since I did not throw myself then from 
Bhishma's chariot while the dreadful fight for ^alva was 
going on ; this is the result which now shows itself — that I 
have come to the wretched plight of some blind woman. 
Shame on Bhishma ! Shame on my foolish father with his 
blinded mind, who has put me on offer like a public harlot 
for the purchase price of heroic ^rength ! ^ Shame on myself I 
Shame on the king of the (^alvas ! Shame, too, on the Maker 1 
For through their evil condudl^ I have fallen into the very 
depths of disa^er. Come what may, man gets his allotted fate. 
But the beginning of this misfortune of mine is Bhishma, 
son of Qantanu. I look on it as right and fitting to make 
Bhishma pay for it, whether my in^rument be asceticism or 
the fight ; for I hold him to be the cause of my suffering.' " 
She went off into a penitential fore^ and overwhelmed with 
sorrow she complained of her grief to the dwellers there. But 
they said thev could be of no help, and she asked to be made a 
nun that she might undertake a heavy penance. For she said 
she could not go back to her kith and kin. The ascetics now 
held a council. Some said : She mu^ go back again to her father ; 
others blamed Bhishma ; others again held that the Calva 
king mu^ be brought to take her. This was opposed by others, 
since he had rebuffed her. In the end they made known to her 
that she mu^ go to her father : " The father or the husband 
is the woman's refuge : the husband when all is well with her, 
the father when it goes ill v/ith her. The penitent's life is 
hard, especially for a delicate daughter of a prince ; and if the 
kings see thee here alone in the deserted fore^, then they will 
harass thee." But she insi^ed that she could not go home, that 

^ Cp. Hera's words at her " self-choice " hi Spitteler's Olympischer 
Fruhling{\C)\o), Bd. i, p. 34. 

2 Liter. : their unmannerliness (durnitabhava). In India the 
Creator is quite used to all kinds of abuse on his evil ways. The " old 
sinner " has to put up with very much too e.g. in the proverbs of the 
Chriftian and reverential South Slavs. Krauss, 8itte u. Branch, etc., 
p. 613. 

The Origin of Man 

she would be scorned there ; she wished, she said, to lead an 
ascetic life, so that so evil a fate should not be thru^ on her 
again in another life.^ Then her mother's father happened to 
come thither, the royal Rishi, Hotravahana. When he had 
heard her tale, and learned who she was he spoke trembling 
and sorrowful to the tortured maiden : " Go not to thy father's 
house. I am thy mother's father. I will turn away thy 
unhappiness. Stay by me, my child, let thy desire re^2 (.j^yg jq 
pine away." He advised her now to seek out his friend 
Paragurama, mighty in arms and penance, and to make requeft 
of him ; he would slay Bhishma, if he did not do as she said, 
and would set her free from her sorrow. Meanwhile, a comrade 
of Paragurama came into the penitential fore^. The matter 
was put before him, and Amba declared that Bhishma had not 
known that she loved the king of the Qalvas, otherwise he 
would not have carried her off ; but that the ascetic mu^ 
decide. He held that Bhishma was the cause of it all ; for had 
he left her alone, then the Calva would have been content 
with her. Amba spoke : " In my heart also does this wish 
ever lie, whether I could not slay Bhishma. Him on whom 
thou laye^ the blame, him do thou cha^ise, for I have come 
because of him into deep suffering." Then later came Rama 
himself ; full of pity and love he hearkened to the lovely, 
tender young granddaughter of his friend Hotravahana, who 
was begging help of him in tears. His wish was now to clear 
everything up through a kindly message to Bhishma, or to the 
^alva, while Amba declared that the (^alva had sent her away 
through di^ru^ in her purity ; Para9urama mu^ make away 
with Bhishma, the root of her unhappiness. He reminded her 
that he would only take up arms on behalf of the Brahmans. 
But she always came back to insi^ing that he mu^ kill 
Bhishma, the cause of all her woes. Then his comrade reminded 
him that he mu^ help her that asks for proteftion, and that, 
moreover, he was bound by an earlier vow, and therefore he 

^ Pare loke. Cp. mv transl. of the Kuttanlmata, pp. 1 18 and 149 ; 
in Petavatthu, ii, 9.44, pare = paramhi. In the Epic this locat. 
pare (apare) is often found (e.g. i, 76.67; ii, 44.28; v, 176.14; 
vi, 3.49 ; vii, 80.6 ; 151.16; xii, 139.66; 143.26; Ram., vii, 33.2). 

2 Paryaptam te manah. Cp. e.g. v, 185.13 f. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

mu^ fight in this case. So Rama went to Kurukshetra with 
his band of disciples and the maiden, and from there a further 
couple of days' journey on, and solemnly asked Bhishma, 
who came to meet him at the frontier respedlfully : " Bhishma, 
what was it that made thee carry off the daughter of the king 
of Kagi that time againft her will, and then let her go ? For 
now the glorious maid is left through thee bereft of her rights 
(marriage) ; for who could here on earth approach her, 
whom thou, a Granger, ha^ touched ? The ^alva has rejedled 
her, because thou did^ carry her away, O Bharata. Therefore 
do thou at my bidding take her back again. This king's 
daughter, O tiger among men, mu^ be given her rights. It is 
not seemly in thee to hold kings to scorn and insult." But 
Bhishma made answer : " I could in no wise give her to my 
brother, O Brahman. ' I belong to the ^alva,' said she to me 
myself before this, and it was with my leave that she went to 
the city. Neither from fear nor pity nor greed, nor to please 
anyone will I be unfaithful to the warrior's laws ; this vow 
I did undertake." But Rama was angered, the more so since 
Bhishma had been his disciple, and was thus under the duty of 
obedience to him. The unshakable one, however, for all his 
reverence for his teacher ^ood his ground : "Who would 
want to take into his house a woman that loves another man, 
and bears herself like a snake-woman, if he knows of it ? A fault 
in women ^ brings great harm. If the teacher is overbearing, 
if he knows not what mu^ be done, and what mu^ be left 
undone, if he goes a^ray, then according to the holy ordinance 
he shall be given up." After further proud and challenging 
words between the two, they made ready to fight. Bhishma's 
mother tried to reconcile them, but without success. Through 
many days la^ed the struggle between the two picked fighters, 
but in the end Rama had to declare himself beaten. Thus had 
Amba's thir^ for vengeance been left unquenched. But she 
did not yield, but with rage in her eyes she exclaimed : " Then 
I will go whither I myself shall bringdown Bhishmain the fight." 
For twelve years she submitted to the mo^ dreadful chastise- 
ments in the Indian lift of penances, then visited various holy 
bathing-places, and there carried out cleansings. After that 
^ Or : a fault (offence) again^ women. 


The Origin of Man 

she was changed one half into an evil river, the Amba, 
but as for the other half she was ^ill the former maiden, and 
gave herself up to further penances. The ascetics surrounded 
her, tried to hold her back, and asked her why she was doing 
all this. Then spoke the maid to the Rishis rich in penance : 
" I have been treated by Bhishma with despite, cheated of the 
rights bound up with the husband. It is to slay him that I have 
given myself to asceticism, not to come unto heaven's worlds. 
When I have slain Bhishma, then shall I find peace. This is 
my resolve. I shall not flop until I have slain Gariga's son 
in the fight, because of whom I have been brought to where 
I now am, thus to dwell in never-ending sorrow, robbed of the 
blissful world of a husband, here on earth neither wife nor 
husband. I am wearied of life as a woman ; I am firmly resolved 
to become a man. I mean to take retaliation on Bhishma ; 
none shall ^l:ay my hand." Then (^iva appeared to her in his 
own shape, and offered her a favour. She chose viftory over 
Bhishma. "Thou wilt slay him." " How should viftory in 
the fight fall to me, a woman .? And as I am a woman, my heart 
is very mild.^ And yet, O lord of beings, thou haft granted 
me to overcome Bhishma." Civa answered : " Thou wilt 
overcome Bhishma in the fight, and become a man. And thou 
wilt remember all this, when thou has!: gone into another body. 
Thou wilt be born in Drupada's race and become a great 
chariot-warrior." When Civa had vanished again, Amba 
gathered wood together out of the forefl:, made a great pile 
before the penitents' eyes, and kindled it. Then, her heart 
ablaze with anger, she leapt into the flaming fire with the cry : 
" Death to Bhishma ! " 

At this time the childless King Drupada was pradlising a 
dreadful asceticism that he might have a son. But Qiva granted 
him only a daughter, but told the discontented king that she 
would become a man. And the queen then later bore a lovely 
girl. The parents gave out that it was a boy, kept the matter a 

^ This seems to me to be one of the slily humorous passages in 
the Epic. Or else we could separate na : in life as a woman my heart 
no longer finds any great peace whatever, that is, I am heartily sick of 
it. Or are we to read ^rantam inftead of ^antarn ? 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

secret from all, had all the rites laid down for a boy carried out on 
the child, and named it (^ikhandin. Bhishma alone learned of the 
whole matter through a spy, the divine Rishi Narada, as also 
of the discourse between (^iva and Amba. When the girl had 
come to marriageable years, her father was in great digress 
as to how he should marry her, and he took counsel with his 
wife. But she spoke confidently : " ^iva's words will soon 
be fulfilled ; the maker of the three worlds cannot lie. 
Therefore do thou get her a wife according to the law." 
Drupada after long inquiries decided for the family of 
Hiranyavarman, the ruler of the Da(;arnas, and sought the hand 
of his daughter. But the poor bride found herself sorely 
undeceived after the wedding, and full of shame told her girl- 
friends and nurses that her husband was a woman. Her intimates 
sent word of this at once to her father, who, blazing with anger, 
sent a messenger to Drupada. The envoy took the evil-doer 
on one side and gave him the message in secret that 
Hiranyavarman because of this disgraceful fraud would de^roy 
him, and his people and minivers. Drupada ^ood before the 
messenger like a thief caught, and not a word came from his 
lips. He sent back word to the bride's angry father that the 
report was utterly untrue. But as the latter knew better, he 
gathered his army and vassals together, and these spoke : 
" If it is so, if ^ikhandin is a maiden, then we will kill Drupada 
together with ^ikhandin, and make another one as king among 
the Pancalas." So a fresh message went off to the sinner : 
" I am going to make away with thee ; pluck up thy courage." 
His wife put heart into the frightened king, telling him to do 
honour to all the gods and worshipful persons and make sacrifice 
in the fires, but also to have the city fittingly defended ; for 
fate and manly ^aunchness, when joined together, was what 
brought good fortune. While the two were anxiously speaking 
with on? another, their daughter came up to them and seeing 
how because of her such ill-hap had come on them, she resolved 
to kill herself. So he went forth into the thick fore^, where a 
Yaksha, Sthunakarna by name, dwelt, whom folk avoided out 
of fear of the monger. Here she meant to ^arve herself to 
death. But the Yaksha came to her, and asked : " What is 
the objeft of this deed of thine ? I will accomplish the business. 


The Origin of Man 

Speak without hesitation." " Impossible ! " she kept on saying 
to the Yaksha. " I will do it," the Yaksha quickly answered. 
" I am a servant to Kubera ; I am a beftower of boons, O 
king's daughter. I grant even that which cannot be granted." 
Then the princess disclosed to him the plight in which she found 
herself ; and as the fore^-spirit had given his promise so 
solemnly and sacredly, he had, indeed, to fulfil it. He spoke : 
" I will give thee my man's sex ^ for a time, and take thy 
woman's sex. Then thou mu^ come hither at the proper time 
again. Swear it to me." (^ikhandini swore that she would 
become a maiden again, and give the Yaksha his manhood back 
again, so soon as the king of the Da^arnas had gone away. 
" So the two in this plight came to a solemn agreement with 
one another, and then made the exchange. ^ The woman's 
mark of sex was borne now by the Yaksha Sthunakarna, and 
^ikhandin! got the Yaksha's shining mark of sex." ^ Greatly 
rejoicing the new man now went back to his father, who at 
once sent off a message to Hiranyavarman that his son was 
indeed a man, and after long negotiations the ruler of the 
Da9arnas, who was sT:ill bent on de^roying the deceiver, agreed 
to an examination ; he sent " the mo^ excellent, very fair- 
formed women " that they might personally convince themselves 
whether it was a man. Their report was to everyone's joy an 
affirmative one, the father-in-law came with glad heart to the 

^ Or perhaps literally : " my man's member " (pumlinga). Cp. 
v, 192.40 f. 

2 According to the comment. : They exchanged their generative 
members. But as yet I do not put much tru^ in his suggefted meaning 
of the word abhisamdeha, but take it as loc. sing., and = doubt, 
suspicion. It muft be said, however, that samkramayatam without 
an object makes a certain difficulty, though not without other examples. 
The variant mentioned by Nil., abhisamdohe might mean " agree- 
ment ". K. has anyonyasyanabhidrohe, thus also referring it to the 
firft half-floka. 

^ So certainly is yaksharupa to be taken here ; for that (Jikhandini 
took over the Yaksha's form is out of the que^ion, Rupa = cihna, 
mark, token, firft mark, forewarning is a good Epic usage (ii, 80.9, 27 ; 
iii, 155.8 ; iv, 39.7 ; v, 73.39 ; vi, 3.65 ff. ; vii, 192.14; xii, 102.8 ff.; 
228.1). Also it = symbolic aftion, bearing (ii, 80.9, cp. with 80.24). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

city, gave very rich gifts to his son-in-law, and parted from his 
daughter vv^ith ^tern rebukes. But about this time the lord of 
the Yakshas, Kubera, happened to make a visit to Sthunakarna, 
and as his servant, who was deeply ashamed of his new sex, did 
not come to meet him, but kept hidden, the god gave notice 
to his following of a heavy punishment for the offender. They 
told him why the poor wretch was not doing his duty. Angrily 
the god of wealth had the thus transformed man brought to 
him, and condemned him for his wicked change of sex, which 
was an insult to all Yakshas, to remain a woman always. But 
on the intercession of the Yakshas he ordained that Sthunakarna 
on (^ikhandin's death was to have his original sex back again. 
When (^ikhandin later appeared, true to his promise, to hand 
over to the helping spirit his manhood again, the latter was 
greatly gladdened by his honefty, and told him of what 
had happened. High rejoicings now held sway in Drupada's 
house, the prince was handed over to learn the art of arms, and 
came to be a di^inguished warrior-hero. Later he did indeed 
bring about Bhishma's death in battle, for Bhlshma had sworn 
not to make use of his weapons again^ any woman, or again^ 
anyone that had ever been a woman, and knew full well, as did 
everyone, how the matter really ^ood.^ 

^ Cp. Hemavijaya's Katharatnakara, ir 8th Tale; Hertel, Wiener 
Zeitschr.f. d. Kunde d. Morgenl., xxv, p. i68 if. ; Crooke, Pop. Re/., 
ii, 7 ; and on change of sex in general Isoldes Gottesurteil, note 200 
(p. 282 f.) ; Weinhold, Zeitschr. d. Ver. f. Foiksk., Bd. 5, p. 126 ff. 
K., i, 109.66, has much that is not found in B., and brings out ^ill more 
Wrongly how holy the girl's inclination and her secret premise of 
marriage were, at Icaft for the warrior cafte. Amba here for six years 
is sent to and fro between the Qalva and Bhishma. One of them muft 
marry her. Then she gives herself up to the fternefl penance. The god 
Kumara brings her a wreath ; whoever wears it, he says, can slay 
Bhishma. She now makes a round of the kings with her wreath and 
prayer for revenge. But none dares. [For spirits with changing sex in 
Melanesia, see G. C. Wheeler, Mono-Alu Folklore, pp. 21, 62 



Woman Lying-in 

LIKE Amba in the tale we have ju^ given, the Hindu 
says : The woman that is excluded from marriage must 
be looked on as an unhappy hermaphrodite. In marriage and in 
love, however, as the Epicagainshows,themanseeksplcasure,but 
the woman seeks the child. And the half-pitying, half-proud 
smile of the Wronger sex at the child-bed Tories of women is 
hardly called for. The heroes, indeed, of the Mahabharata 
in their converse tell one another of their victories and fights. 
Should the woman, then, not speak of her own, and of her 
" dwelling with death " ? The woman in child-bed, indeed, 
has by the Hindu also, from ages paft been held to be an 
important, even if at the same time unclean, being. One that 
is unclean in any sense gives the evil powers that are ever lurking 
about mankind a dangerous opening. Thus, too, swarms of 
mongers are on the watch to do hurt to the mother and new- 
born child. A number of them, and also such as are dangerous 
to women with child are given in iii, 230.24-45 : they carry 
off children, eat them, for ten nights they are ever to be found 
in the lying-in room ; a female snake-demon penetrates into the 
mother's womb, and there devours the fruit, the woman then 
brings forth a snake ^ ; the mother of the Apsarases takes the 
foetus away, and people then say : " She has lo^ her child." 
So, too, in iii, 228.1 ff., we are told of evil spirits who carry 
off children after birth or even in the womb.^ 

^ [For women and snakes in Melanesia cp. G. C. Wheeler, Mono- 
Alu Folklore, pp. 13, 36, 37 (Translator).] 

2 The children's female demon Putana gives her brea^tothe suckling 
during the night, and those that drink of it die at once. Vishnup., 
vol. iv, p. 376 ; Bhagavatapur., x, 6. Evil spirits kill the fruit of the 
womb, exchange those of two pregnant women, if these come near 
trees, mountains, embankments, ditches, cross-roads, burning-grounds, 
or the sea (water), where a spirit of this kind dwells (Mark.-Pur., li, 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

8, 14, 21-22, 64-65, 77-80); they carry off the new-born child 
(ibid., li, 105-107). Cp. further Crooke, Pop. ReL, i, 264 f. ; Thur^on, 
Omens and Super^itions, etc., 246 ; Chavannes, Cinq cents contes, 
iii, 42 ; 115 ; Jataka, Nos. 510, 513, 540 ; etc. Along M of super- 
natural beings that also do harm to children is given in Agnipur., 
xxxi, 29-31 (Dutt, p. 125), so too in ccxcix, such as especially lie 
in wait for the young child, and this until the seventeenth year of life. 
The Bhutas, Pretas, Pi9acas, and Vetalas are foes of conception (cp. 
Mark.-Pur., li, 46, 114 ff.) and dangerous to the foetus (Mahanir- 
vanatantra, ix, 124). Markandeyapur., Ixxvi, 6-19 is worthy of 
remark here : Jataharini (a female robber of new-born children) always 
firft fteals two children, and exchanges them with one another, then 
she ^eals a third, and eats it. When doing this she takes the shape 
of a cat, and so awaits near the child her opportunity. Among the 
Urau (in Bengal) the evil spirit Chordeva, turning into a cat, creeps 
into the house, and during the birth and for fifteen days after seeks 
to harm the mother. Therefore the husband muft keep watch, and 
a fire always be kept up. Zeitschr. f. EtAnol., Bd. 6, p. 343 (after 
Dalton). Cp. Crooke, loc. cit., p. 271 ; Elsie Clews Parsons, The 
Old-Fashioned Woman, p. 57 ; etc. In the Weft, too, this witch- 
beaft is dangerous to the woman lying-in. See Zachariae, Zeiischr. 
d. Fer.f. Folksk., Bd. 22, p. 235 f. But on the other hand Shashthi 
also, the friendly goddess of the sixth night after the birth, rides on 
the back of this witching beaft (Crooke, Pop. Re/., ii, 241) ; and in 
general this tailed creature of magic is in near relation with the sexual 
life of woman. Cp. also Thurfton, Omens and Superfi. of Southern 
India, p. 77. liike the witches and goblins, the old German wood- 
spirits also are fond of turning into cats (Mannhardt, Wald- u. Feld- 
kulte,\, 89, 112, 146; E. H. Meyer, Mythoi. d. Germanen, 140); 
and to the Indians also they are magical beings or witch-beafts (Stokes, 
Indian Fairy Tales, 15, 18, 19, 2,55). 

Superftition of this kind is well-knowTi to be spread throughout 
the world. Witches fteal small children, and eat them or use them 
for their magical purposes ; all kinds of spirits do harm to the mother, 
carry off the small beings, and put their changelings in their ftead, 
suck children's blood, and so on. Garnett, The Women of Turkey, 
etc., I, 13,. 70, 231, 315 ; ii, 22, 245 (and on this Zschr.f. EthnoL, 
Bd. 26, p. 560) ; Zmigrodski, Die Mutter bei d. Volkern d. arisch. 
Stammes, 124 ff. ; Hartland, The Science of Fairy Tales, New York, 
1891, pp. 93-134 ; Fr. S. Krauss, Slav. Folkforsch., 60, 64, 66, 67, 
68, 72, 146, 148, 153 ff. ; etc. As probably moft primitive peoples 
believe that a man can make only one child, and that with twins there 
muft be either an uninvited fellow-worker or a supernatural being 

Woman Lying-in 

at work, so in one of the twins there is often seen a supernatural visitor 
from magical realms. But as it is not known which is a man's own 
child, both of them are often reared. But in other places, indeed, 
both are forthwith killed, or there is means to find out which is the 
intruder, exaftly like the real changeling in European tales. There 
is a great number of these tales of changelings. As an example let 
only Kirchhof's Wendunmuth, iii, 516 f. be given. A delightful 
account of the wise oracular utterances which are made especially 
by the swarm of aunts, godmothers, and woman-neighbours about a 
supposed magical being of this kind, is given by Juho Reijonen, a 
pleasing Finnish novelift of our day, in his Vaihdokas (The Changeling). 
Indeed, ^migrodski ftates : " Witch and lying-in woman are in Aryan 
tradition almoft one and the same" {Die Mutter, p. 177). The 
death of a woman in child-bed is always a magically dangerous misfor- 
tune in India (see e.g. Anthropos, vi, 872 f. ; vii, 85 f. ; iv, 68) ; she 
becomes, at leaft in the belief of some primitive tribes, a very evil 
spirit, called Churel or Chorail, which wanders about with the feet 
turned backwards. Billington, Woman in India, p. 100 ; Crooke, 
Things Indian, Lond., 1906, p. 131 ; Popul. Re/ig., etc., i, 269-274 ; 
Anthropos, iv, 679 (Pahariya) ; vii, 649, 659 (Khond) ; Zeitschr. 
fiir EthnoL, Bd. 6, p. 344. Cp. Ploss-Bartels, ii, 579 if. ; Zmigrodski, 
148 ; E. H. Meyer, Mythol. d. Germanen, 31 ; 56 ; loi f. ; cp. 
43 ; A. Jeremias, Allgemeine Religionsgesch. 2, p. 53 (among the old 
Babylonians). In the belief of the Urau they are clothed in white, 
and have a pleasing face, but a coal-black back. Zschr. f. EthnoL, 
Bd. 4, p. 344 (after Dalton). Like those who have met an accidental 
death, women that die in child-bed are buried by the Nagas in the 
jungle without any rites. And yet the Empeo at any rate among them 
believe that only women dying in child-bed, and men that have 
fallen in the fight or been killed by tigers are allowed to go forthwith 
to the higheft god. Zschr. f. EthnoL, Bd. 30, p. 353. This reminds 
us of the Breton belief : A mother who has died in child-bed need 
only fly through purgatory, and then goes ^raight into heaven. 
Zmigrodski, Die Mutter, p. 142. A like belief is found, too, among the 
Mohammedans, in old Mexico, in Sumatra, in Steiermark, and so on. 
The uncanny and the holy or the divine are very near akin not in 
India only. The woman thus snatched away was at that very time 
highly unclean, and she also suffered an unnatural, premature death, 
as do for in^ance the criminal and the soldier, together with whom 
she often appears. The ghoft of a person that has thus died is, 
however, powerful and often malicious. In India, indeed, the robber 
or murderer that has been put to death becomes a kind of god. 
See my Da9akum., pp. 31, 358, and on that Bharatlyanatyafaftra, iii, 



Sexual Life in Ancient India 

40 if. ; the eerie tale " The Cry from the River " in R. W. Frazer, 
Silent Gods and Sun-Steeped Lands, Lond., 1906, p. 90; Crooke, 
Popul. Re/ig.f etc., i, p. 228 ; ii, 199 (also Dubois-Beauchamp, 449 ; 
548 ; Fuller, Studies of Indian Life and Sentiment, p. 95, and especially 
96) ; and Thur^on, Omens and Superstitions, etc., pp. 162, 178, 179, 
209. With the Indian dodrine that punishment atones, blots out any 
guilt and reproach, is probably connected on the other hand the 
teaching of the old verse which I quoted in that note to the Da^akum., 
and which, for inftance, is also found in Vasishtha, xix, 45 ; Manu, 
viii, 318 ; Narada, Pari^ishta, 48 : The criminal punished by the king 
goes without a spot into heaven, like the pious man. Cp. my Hindu 
Tales, pp. 9-10 (note). In Sicily, too, as I point out in the Dagakum., 
executed criminals are prayed to and worshipped. Cp. Hartland, 
"The Cult of Executed Criminals at Palermo," Folk-Lore, vol. 21, 
p. 168 fF. ; vol. 7, p. 275 ; Primitive Paternity, i, 77. And in general 
anyone meeting his end by violence is outside the course of nature, 
and becomes a god, an evil spirit, etc. " There is a deified Pootra in 
every Rajput family — one who has met with a violent death." Tod, 
Raja^han, i, 298, note; cp. 659-60; Hartland, i, 77; Zschr. d. 
Ftr.f Volksk., Bd. 2, p. 185 ; Zschr. f. Re ligwls sense h, Bd. 8, p. 258. 
Much valuable information is given especially by Crooke, Pop. Re I., 
i, 43, 44,46, 62, 96, 99, 115, 119 129, 138 ff., 147, 189 ff., 230 f., 
234 fF. ; Crooke, The North-We^ern Provinces, 252. Here we find 
included the suicide, who in the law writing, the Puranas, and else- 
where is branded as evil ; even the attempt at suicide is, indeed, to 
be heavily punished (Mahanirvanatantra, xi, 72 f.), and as an offence 
bringing loss of caSte muft be atoned for by works of mortification 
and " Penance of the Purse ", that is, by giving cattle (Para^ara, xii, 
5-8 ; cp. Vasishtha, xxiii, 18 ff.). If a kinsman loses his life by his 
own hand, or in some other " unnatural " way (execution, water, 
fire, lightning, a beaft, battle, accident, etc.), then his death does not 
make his kinsfolk unclean, and for the suicide there muft be no pyre, 
no tears, no death-gifts, nor any other pious rite, otherwise heavy 
vows of mortification muft be undertaken, as muft no less be done by 
him who even cuts the cord of a hanged man. Gautama, xiv, 9 ff. ; 
Manu, V, 89, 95, 98 ; Vishnu, xxii, 47, 56, 58-60 ; Vasishtha, xxiii, 
14 ff. ; Yajnav., iii, 6, 21, 27 ; Paragara, iii, 10 ; iv, 1-6 ; Kautilya, 
transl., 341.23 ff. ; Garuda-Pur., Pretakalpa, 4.1 04-1 12, i6o;4o.4ff. ; 
44.24-29 ; 44.1-5 ; Baudh.-Grihyas., Pitrimedhasutra, iii, 7.1 ff. ; 
Mark.-Pur., xxxv, 45 ; Agnipur., clvii, 32 ; 159.2-3; 158.37,39-41; 
often in the Vishnupur. ; etc. How uncanny the man is who has 
died by his own hand, is seen clearly also from Para^ara, v, 10 ff. 
The Qraddha on the 14th day of the half-month is forbidden for 

. 394 

Woman Lying-in 

the ordinary dead, but prescribed for him that has been slain with a 
weapon. Yajiiav., i, 263 ; Caland, Totenverekrung, bottom of 44 to 45. 
Sacer means " holy " and " cursed " — he that has been raised above 
sin and earthly mankind through blissful death in battle, and the shame- 
ful outcaft from the cafte appear side by side in the laws we have 
quoted ! Cp. with this subjed of death by violence, for in^ance, 
Zschr. d. Ver.f. Volksk., Bd. 14, p. 31 ff. ; 322 f. (and the references 
there); Caland, Totenverehrung, 74; Zschr. f. EthnoL, v, 187; 
Crooke, Anthropos, Bd. 4, p. 68 (Naga) ; ibid., 464 (Dravidian peoples); 
Ho^en, ibid., p. 682 (Pahariya, India) ; Anthropos, Bd. vii, p. 649 
(Khond) ; Hartland, i, 182 (Pahariya). And the very animal one 
kills can become a de^roying being. So the Hindu, when a snake 
has been killed, carries out the same death rites as he does in honour 
of a kinsman (Ramakrishna, Life in an Indian Village^ 1891, p. 135, 
from south India; Thurfton, Omens and Superfiitions, etc., 191 2, 
p. 123); and these often discussed ideas are very well expressed in the 
46th rune of the Kalevala, where the bear, the ^rong king of the 
Finnish forces, is appeased with the moft reverential ceremonies 
and the moft honeyed words, and he is told that it is not men who have 
taken his life, but that he fell himself out of the fir-tree to his death. 
Cp. Crooke, Pop. Re/., ii, 212. The appeasing of the captured bear 
here referred to seems, however, to fit in firft of all with the bear- 
worship of the Aino, the Gilyaks and other Amur peoples, which finds 
its highe^ expression in the famous bear-feftival of the Aino and the 
Gilyaks. Of this feflival among the la^-named people, and what is 
connected with it Leo Sternberg has given a very good account in his 
excellent article on the religion of the Gilyaks, Zeitscbr.f. Re/gnszviss., 
Bd. 8, p. 260 ff. ; see especially 272 there. The bear-cult of the 
Aino and a long set of details belonging to it, as also the ideas lying 
behind it are treated at length by Frazer, Golden Bough ^, 1900, Bd. 

ii, 374 ff- 

It can be underwood that the woman dead in child-bed seeks above 
all to harm those of her own sex, or her husband, or young men : 
her envious revenge is diredled againft those who in things of sex are 
so much happier than she has been. Therefore they also annoy women 
in child-bed. R. Schmidt, Liebe u. Ehe in Indien, p. 520. In India 
such a ghoft, as a handsome woman, also draws on young men by night 
intodellruftion. Crooke, Po/i. ^if/.,i, 253, 270 ff. Cp. e.g. R. Andree, 
Ethnogr. Parallelen, i, 92 f. In the same way in India the tiger that 
has eaten a man is always accompanied by the ghoft of its viftim, 
and led by him to other human beings that it may also slay them. 
Sleeman, Rambles and Reco/Iedions, i, i 54 ; Crooke, Pop. Rei., i, 267 ; 
ii, 210 ff. ; Anthropos, vii, 651, 660 ; and the thrilling tale of" The 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

Various means, ceremonieSj and magics for driving off these 
evil influences are, of course, of great antiquity, and make their 
appearance already in Vedic literature. Then the Grihyasutras 
also deal with this subjeft, although not at great length ; 
further there are the medical works, etc. A fairly clear 
description of the lying-in room of an upper-class woman of 
Old India is given in xiv, 68. It is hung with white, luck- 
bringing wreaths ; vessels filled with water ^and everywhere 
towards the different quarters of the heavens, and melted butter, 
brands of tinduka-wood, and mu^ard-seeds ; round about are set 
naked missiles and lighted fires. Old women run around on all 
kinds of services, and equally skilled physicians. Everywhere the 
eye meets the magical things which have been set out about the 
place by experienced persons according to the prescript, and 
which rob the spirits of their evil. — So soon as Sita has brought 
forth her twins, the holy Valmiki is called in to see to the spirit- 
banning, prote6live measures. And he also drives away the 
rakshas and bhutas. As being especially powerful, the holy 
ku^a-grass is, of course, used here also (Ram., vii, 66). 

Mo^ important of all is the fire (sutikagni) that ^ill burns 
to-day in the lying-in rooms of India. It mu^ be kept always 
burning (xii, 69.49), as, indeed, for keeping off the dark powers 
in general the warding flame of fire muil be kept up day and 
night ^ (cp. xiii, 13 1.7 ff., where as remedies again^ the eerie 

Tailless Tger " in Frazer's Silent Gods and Sun-Steeped Lands, p. 1 1 ff. 
Doubtless among other things the belief also enters here that anyone 
killed by a beaft becomes this beaft himself. So also the Gilyaks 
believe of the human prey of a bear (Schurtz, Urgesch. d. Kultur, 
p. 570). Finally there is probably another belief at work in the dread 
with which a woman carried off in child-bed is looked on : The woman 
that was so little fitted for her natural calling is a wretched being, nay, 
an offence again^ her lord and mafter, and a shame on her family. 
How should she, then, but have to go about as an evil ghoft, herself 
unhappy, and to others bringing unhappiness ! With more advanced 
views she has also done wrong to the child, and has to come back to 
it, suckle it, care for it,^and so on. Mother love as a motive probably 
belongs to a higher developed set of ideas. [For child-dealing spirits 
in Melanesia cp. G. C. Wheeler, Mono-Alu Folklore, pp. 60, 61, 

^ Billington, Woman in India, iff.; 99 ; Hartland, Science of 
Fairy Tales, 96 ; etc. The woman who is unclean and makes unclean 
muft ^ay ten days in the lying-in room. Manu, vi, 217. 

Woman Lying-in 

spirit-beings Pramathas the following are also given : hyena 
skin, hyena teeth, mountain tortoise, the smell of butter, a 
cat, a black and a red he-goat). Like the fire that comes into 
contaft with other unclean objeds, as for in^ance the lich-fire, 
the sutikagni is unclean (iii, 221.31 ; cp. e.g. Hiranyake^in's 
Grihyas.,ii, 1,3.4 ; i,4-8).^ 

1 Down to to-day in India, or at leaft here and there, the husband 
also is made unclean by the wife's child-bed, and thus exposed to 
magical influences (Billington, 4-5) ; and the Gopa (" herdsman ") 
in Bengal is forty days unclean then, jusT: as in case of a death {Zeitschr. 
f. Ethnolog., Bd. 6, p. 372, after Dalton). The same belief is_ witnessed 
to for us by the old law books. As by the death of one of his kindred, 
so through the birth of a child the Brahman becomes unclean for 
ten days, the Kshattriya twelve, the Vai9ya fifteen, the Qudra a month. 
Vishnu, xxii, 1-4 ; Para?ara, iii, 4. According to Vasishtha, iv, 20-29 
the dark ban lies on the Kshattriya even fifteen days, on the Vai^ya 
twenty days. Cp. Gautama, xiv, 14-16. Indeed, inthe matter 
of the disputed queftion touched on here and by Vasishtha there 
were, according to Baudhayana, i, 5, 11. 19-23, those who maintamed 
that only the father, as the main originator, was made unclean through 
the child's birth. Cp. Buhler's note SEE, xiv, p. 180; Agnipur., 
158.60 f ; Garudapur., Pretakalpa, 39.9, 11. But Baudh. decides like 
others : " both parents." See also Manu, v, 77, 79 ? Agnipur., p. 608 ; 
Schmidt, Liebe u. Eke in Indien, p. 530 fl^. (also 503 ff. ; 509); 
Crooke, Pop. ReL, i, 274-277. In the faft that the father is thus 
exposed to the evil-minded powers I see the moft primitive and mam 
cause of the Couvade, for which so many interpretations have been 
given. Max MuUer's way out of it all is moft extraordinary. _ It is 
in general explained as a survival from the times of mother-right ; 
the husband wanted, it is said, to make known in a very evident way 
his claim on the child. So, too, Ploss-Bartels, Henne am Rhyn 
Weftermarck, Ed. Meyer, and others, to say nothing of those with a fad 
for the matriarchate. But even where mother-right aftually prevails, 
the husband in many, but by no means in all, cases is deemed to be 
the natural owner of each child which his wife, that is, his property, 
brings forth, even when he himself and everyone else knows that he 
has nothing to do with it ; and under father-right this is the universally 
held view. Among many Brazilian tribes that have the Couvade 
it is to the father only that the origination of the child is ascribed. 
Kunicke, Zeitschr. f. EthnoL, vol. 43. P- 553- Cp. there 547-8. 
Now for the man there is nothing more dreadful than to be in any 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

way put on a level with the so very contemptible, and often 

my^erious woman, or to be in any way like her. There is, therefore, 

in truth a much Wronger motive needed, for making a lying-in woman 

of the husband, than the wish to see the children of his wife looked 

on as his own. Superftition filled with the thought of the precious 

self holds all the primitive peoples in its bonds, and an even relatively 

important freedom from it, such, for in^ance, as we meet with in the 

book of the two Seligmann's on the Veddas, or as is here and there 

reported of the Aino, arouses the greateft a^onishment. On the other 

hand the universal development of marriage by way of hetaerism and 

matriarchate cannot be proved. For then all the peoples with the 

Couvade would have to be patriarchal now, and before they had the 

men's lying-in they muft have had mother-right. But even the fir^ 

of these two does not hold, to say nothing whatever of the proof of 

the second. And the selfishness of the man is a truly " cosmic " 

element. I should like, then, as again^ this explanation and the other 

one to be immediately discussed, to point to some words of Fr. S. 

Krauss that are to be found somewhere in a note on the cuftoms 

and habits of the South Slavs, and are worth more than many a long 

ethnological treatise. They are somewhat as follows : " If to-morrow 

the men had to bear the children, then the social queftion would be 

solved at one ftroke — mankind would at once die out." Children 

are indeed often very valuable to primitive man ; but he does not 

take to the child-bed for their sake. But this is juft what Starcke 

holds: "The well-being of the child is the objedl ; the father's 

powers of endurance are displayed on such occasions, and might 

thus be assured to the child, for no one who was deficient in courage 

and endurance would submit to this cu^om " {^Prim'tt. Family, 

p. 52). Primitive man is indeed not so careful and self-forgetting 

for the sake of his offspring. We are, it is true, often told of the foolish 

fondness shown, or said to be shown, by savages towards their growing 

children. But when we are told how general it is for the new-born 

to be killed off, and when we think how despised the father would 

become, if he took much heed of a brat like this, usually left only to the 

care of women, or even of fate — then we cannot believe that he would 

hand over his very important self to the shame and the discomforts, 

and even the pains of a couvade, only that it may go well for the little 

helpless creature. The ^atement in Dobrizhoffer from the relatively 

highly developed Abipones is worth nothing. No ; superftitious 

fear of the harm that might come to a man's own much-threatened 

personality, this only is the root. Primos in orbe deos fecit timor, 

as we may read also in the MBh., xii, 15. 13-19; K, iii, 28.16. 

Dark beings and forces lurk round the father, who is likewise made 


Woman Lying-in 

unclean, far more than round the mother or the child ; for, as a man, 
he seems so immeasurably more important, in the eyes of the gho^ly 
powers also, than the wretched worthless woman. The man's child- 
bed is probably, anyhow where it is bound up with torments of any 
kind, at the same time a magical matter, and beftows charmed and 
magic ftrength. And probably it makes a part of the magical 
homoeopathy of primitive man. 

Note in Proof} — The well-known article by Ling Roth in the 
J ournal of the Roy. Anthropol. InH., vol. xxii, p. 204 IF., was deliberately 
not read by me till the laft, so that I might not be influenced by it. 
But unfortunately I only saw it after sending oiFmy MS. He brings 
forward a good many cases where the welfare of the child is given 
as the reason of the couvade (pp. 209-1 1, 214 f., 217 f., 219 IF.). This 
ftandpoint has therefore undoubtedly not been without influence. 
The man's lying-in is found neither among the loweft, nor among 
the civilized peoples (of to-day) (p. 222). The Auftralians living 
under mother-right believe that the child really comes only from 
the father (225 f.). Mother-right and Couvade are met with together 
among the Arawaks, and in Melanesia (227 ; cp. 238 f.). 
^ [Of the original.] 


Woman in the House 

NOR is the careful, busy housewife left altogether out of 
account in the Epic. While the brothers are living in 
banishment in the foreft with Draupadi, the idea comes one 
day into the head of the divine holy man Durvasas — who 
on the slightest grounds will break out into an anger full of 
mighty curses, and finds a cannibal-like joy in scratching others 
till they bleed ^ — the idea comes into his head to lead the 
Pandavas and their wife into some very evil plight. With a 
huge crowd of disciples he comes to them as a gueft ju^ as 
their meal is over. Draupadi now does not know what to 
do. The wonderful cooking-pot (sthall) given by the sun god 
be^ows indeed every kind of food, but as Draupadi has eaten 
la^, it will give out nothing more for this meal.- She, too, has 

^ On the spiteful ill-nature of this " holy man with the purified 
soul " besides what has been already told and our passage see especially 
iii, 262.7-15; xiii, 159. In hotness of temper his no less pious 
brother-hermit Bhuti may be compared with him : in Bhuti's 
hermitage the wind therefore did not dare to blow Wrongly, the sun 
to shine hotly, the rain to cause any dirt ; even the water he drew 
in his pitcher was afraid of him. Markandeyapur., xcix, 2 ff. Cp. 
MBh., iii, 1 10.9 ff. Durvasas was, however, in our case put up to it 
by Duryodhana (iii, 262.16 ff.). 

2 This wishing-pot is only one variety of the jewel of the sun god, 
the Syamantaka, which we are often told about in the Purana literature. 
This Syamantaka be^ows gold (eight loads every day), grants every 
blessing, keeps all evil away, etc. But in Krishna's words it muft be 
in the keeping of a wholly pure and always chafte man ; then from 
the noble treasure there goes forth welfare for the whole land. But 
if it is entru^ed to a bad man, then it kills him (etat sarvakalarn fucina 
brahmacaryena ca dhriyamanarn agesharashtrasyopakaram, 9I. 69), 
Vishnupur., am^a 4, adhyaya 13. It is thus a Holy Grail in this also, 
that it makes such great demands on its warden. It is to be noticed 
that in Wolfram von Eschenbach the Holy Grail is not a vessel, but a 


Woman in the House 

now already eaten her meal. But the arti^ in curses and his 
following mu^ be fed. In her difficulty she calls on Krishna, 
who comes and gives the gue^s their fill in supernatural wise 
without their having eaten at all (iii, 263). 

A kind of beatification of the housewife wrapped up in her 
cooking is given in ix, 48.33 ff. ArundhatI, the companion of 
one of the seven Rishis, and so famous for her wifely faithfulness, 
likewise ftood out by her asceticism. A twelve years' drought 
came on them. Then ^iva, gladdened by Arundhati's piety, 
came there in Brahman's shape, said he was hungry, and begged 
for alms. " The food is used up, O Brahman ; eat these 
badara-fruit " (the fruit of the jujube-tree). " Cook them." 
She now cooked and cooked the fruit for twelve years, and 
while she was so busied, and meanwhile listening to the heavenly 
discourse and tales of the gue^, the drought went by : twelve 
years had gone by her without her marking it, and she had not 

co^ly precious ^one. Schroeder could without more ado have referred 
to our Purana passage (cp. " Wurzein d. Sage v. hi. Gral ", Wiener 
Sitxungsber., Bd. 166, pp. 4-5). The Chriftian ftone thus 
probably comes from India. Mention muft be here made also of 
the well-known brea^-jewel of the sun god Vishnu-Krishna, the 
Kauftubha. This might probably likewise be set beside the Brisin- 
gamen, often identified by Schroeder with the sun. From the Epic 
much other matter could be adduced. Here we only mention those 
" ear-rings of precious ftone " (akin to the ear-rings of the sun god) 
which for the wearer drive away hunger, thirft, danger from poison, 
fire, and from wild beafts, sweat (syand) gold, suck up by night the 
brightness of the ftars, and so on. With them too care muft be taken 
(xiv, 57.22 ff.). Truthfulness, honour, faithfulness, charity, etc., 
are, indeed, very often demanded in the case of these fairy things, and in 
Old India also this was so well known a conception that the rule 
imagined for the " pearl of a leather pouch " in Apaharavarman's 
adventures seemed quite in order (my Da^akumarac, p. 224). Is 
it the pure and purifying light of their mother, the sun, that ever 
shines on them, even on the charity — and kindred beakers, as on the 
renowned beaker of Djemshid, which also was made of a jewel } — 
Schroeder, anyhow, has been more right than I in deriving the cooking- 
pot beftowed by the sun god on Yudhishthira dire<9Jy from the old 
conception of the sun as a pot (" Sage vom hi. Gral," p. 16). In 
iii, 3.172, it is called a tamra pithara (copper pot). 


Sexual Life in Ancient India 

eaten a bite but only cooked and likened. Then the god 
showed himself in his own shape, and spoke to the seven 
Rishis : " The tapas (asceticism, ascetic merit) that ye have 
heaped up on the ridge of the Himalaya is in my belief not so 
great as the tapas of this woman. For this poor woman (or : 
woman rich in tapas) has pradised a tapas hard indeed to carry 
out : facing and cooking, she has spent twelve years." — Earlier 
the same chapter gives another form of the same legendary 
account, which was thought out to explain the badarapacana 
(badara-cooking) of Tirthanamen. QrutavatI, the virginal and 
peerlessly lovely daughter of the holy man Bharadvaja, under- 
goes a ^ridl penance to win Indra for a husband. In the shape 
of the Brahman Vasishtha he at la^ visits her hermitage, and 
is hospitably welcomed by her ; but she cannot give him her 
hand to take, because she is wholly dedicated to Indra in 
worship and love. The disguised god smiles, and offers her five 
badara-fruit with the bidding to cook them. The whole day long 
she cooks them, but the heavenly one has made the fruit 
impossible to cook so as to make trial of the pious woman. The 
day comes to its end, and her supply of wood is used up. But she 
is bent on faithfully carrying out her cooking duties, puts her 
feet in the fire, and keeps on pushing them further in when a 
bit is burnt off. Not a muscle does she move, there is no 
dejeftion in her soul, in her heart abides only the gue^'s 
bidding, although the fruit will not get cooked. Mightily 
rejoiced, Indra now reveals himself in his glory to the maid ; 
she lays aside the shell of the body, and goes with him to dwell 
as his wife in heaven. To the glorification of this housewifely 
self-denial the bathing-place where it happened is ^ill world- 
renowned to-day ; to bathe there wipes out all sins, n^y, 
whoever spends but one night there and carries out his washing 
attains to heavenly worlds hard to attain to. 

The housewife mu^ also see to ^rift order, see to it that 
spade, sickle, basket, brass vessels, etc., do not lie about (xii, 
228.60). " Where earthenware is ^rewn about or there are 
broken utensils or seats, in such a house, ruined by sinful dirt, 
the women perish (hanyante). The gods and forefathers go 
back again hopeless on festivals and holy days from the house 
of sinful dirt (because they cannot accept anything there). 


Woman in the House 

Broken utensils and bedheads, cock and dog, and a tree growing 
by the house— these are all things bringing misfortune. In 
broken vessels dwells ^rife, the saying is, in the bed.^ead decay 
of wealth, in the presence of the cock and the dog the gods eat 
not the sacrificial food, in the root of the tree dwells assuredly 
a goblin ; therefore the tree shall not be planted " (xni, 
1 27 6, 7,15,1 6). Women that are not troubled by implements 
and crockery being left about are shunned by the goddess of 
happiness and beauty ; on the other hand, she dwells m and with 
those that in this and other things live up to the pattern for the 

woman (xiii, ii.ioff.)-^ . , , , r u 

Carefully to administer the household is thus the task ot the 
wife But does she rule, too, in the household circle ? "Be 
mi^ress over thy father-in-law, be miftress over thy mother- 
in-law " the bride, indeed, is told in the wedding hymn (Rigveda, 
X 85 46), and the same thing is elsewhere also held out to her 
in prosped But to a woman and at a wedding one may lie, 
the Mahabh. says more than once. Whatever of truth may at 
some time have lain in those anyhow noteworthy verses of the 
Veda, in the Epic we find it to be the duty of the young house- 
wife, who under Indian conditions usually lives under one root 
with her parents-in-law, to be subjed to these persons, who 
even for her husband are worshipful and authoritative i he 
daughter-in-law is to fear the father-in-law, and a dignified 
gravity mu^ be the rule between the two (v, 37.5). Her bearing 
towards him shall be kindly and friendly (v, 30 35)- ^'^^^ 
thou art the guru (dignitary) of my guru (that is, of my husband), 
so art thou to me the god of gods, the over-god of the gods, 
says a pious daughter-in-law to the father-in-law (xiv, 90.7b;. 
The daughter-in-law, therefore, muft not give orders to the 
servants in the presence of the mother-in-law and the father- 
in-law (xii, 228.76). Evil-speaking again^ her mother-in-iaw 

1 Cp M3rk.-Pur., 1, 86 : Where utensils are ftrewn about the 
house there dwell ill-boding powers ; Vishnusmriti, xxv, 4 ff-» and 
Yainav , i, 8^ : Women muft keep the pots and pans and the house- 
hold things in good order. If they do this, ^^^ ^'7^^^^^^%;;^^ T^ 
and have sons, then the goddess of happiness dwells ever wjth and in 
them (Vishnusmriti, xcix, 2 1 ff.)- " Indian houses are kept beaunfully 
clean," Fuller, SiuJies of Indian Life, etc., p. 151. 

Sexual Life in Ancient India 

is a shameful sin for the wife (xiii, 93.131 ; 94.38), and she 
mu^ appear before her only in modeft, seemly clothing (xi, 

But of the well-known tabu relation between father-in- 
law and daughter-in-law, to which Buddhi^ writings also 
allude, the Epic knows nothing.^ On the other hand it has 
already been mentioned as a custom of the daughter-in-law 
to seat herself on the right thigh of her father-in-law, ju^ 
like his own children (i, 97.9). And, in fadl, the Epic shows 
us the mo^ beautiful relations between the parents-in-law and 
the daughter-in-law. Especially with her husband's mother 
the younger woman has affedtionate, and even intimate relations. 
The Epic poetry often touches on this subjeft, and there is 
never heard one note of that song of the mother-in-law that 
we know so well. Whether the then Indian daughter-in-law 
was really so much better off than is often her later sifter 
cannot, o